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Originally published Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 12:00 AM


Former Marshall principal to resign

Seattle Public Schools will pay former John Marshall Alternative School principal Joseph Drake more than $200,000 in exchange for his resignation...

Seattle Times education reporter

Seattle Public Schools will pay former John Marshall Alternative School principal Joseph Drake more than $200,000 in exchange for his resignation from the district.

According to an agreement signed this week, Drake will work from home for the next several months on a plan to reduce gang violence among youth. The district will continue to pay him at his annual salary of $105,000 until Aug. 31, and it will pay him an additional year's pay.

Drake, 66, served as principal of John Marshall for more than 12 years before he was placed on paid administrative leave in August. Then, a consultant's report blamed poor leadership for problems at the school. John Marshall, an alternative school for at-risk students in grades 6-12, is closing at the end of this school year.

A district investigation found that Drake was viewed as a "threatening person" by his staff. In addition, the investigation said he "engaged in a campaign of profane, intimidating and bully behavior, using the 'F' word during a meeting with central-office staff members"; bullied University of Washington evaluators working on a report about his school; "created an atmosphere of mistrust and 'my way or the highway' approach to policies and practices at the school"; and "impugned the character and competence of the district staff."

In a February letter to Drake, Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson wrote that she intended to terminate him. He wrote back to begin negotiating a settlement. At first, Drake asked for four years of pay and the district agreed to pay him for one year, at his annual salary of $105,000. They settled on two years. He remains on paid administrative leave through Aug. 31.

"The determination of the investigation made it clear that it was in the best interest of the district and Mr. Drake to resolve the relationship," district spokesman David Tucker said.

Drake could not be reached Friday afternoon. His home answering machine tells callers they have reached his home office for "Prepaid Legal Services."

Drake's attorney, Matt King, said the negotiations with the district were unnecessarily "hostile."

"My client is at least somewhat disappointed in the settlement," he said. "But he's ready to move on with the next chapter of his life."

He did not know Drake's plans.

In a March 4 letter, Drake wrote that he deserved compensation "in order that my family and I continue to experience a quality lifestyle."

He blamed media coverage for damaging his image and causing him pain and suffering, including a story in The Seattle Times outlining years of complaints against Drake that the district ignored. In interviews for that article, Drake said his leadership style was empowering, and he said he's devoted his career to helping at-risk youth.


At his annual salary, Drake has already collected about $75,000 of his settlement in the past year while the district investigated and negotiated his resignation.

Tucker said the information the district had to gather was "complex."

"We're also wanting to be sure in these situations that the information we're being provided through those reports was accurate both to respect the rights of the employee as well as to protect the students," he said.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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