Today Mayor Ed Murray nominated Dwane Chappelle to be the first director for the Seattle Department of Early Education and Learning (DEEL). Chappelle has been the principal at Rainier Beach High School since 2011.
“Dwane has done a remarkable job at Rainier Beach High School, a model of success that we want to benefit all Seattle students,” said Murray. “His students leave high school better prepared for college and the 21st century workplace. Dwane’s vision and experience will be instrumental as we work together to address the opportunity gap, ensuring our education system serves all our students, regardless of their background or family income.”
Under Chappelle’s leadership and with the support of students, parents, teachers and the community, the graduation rate at Rainier Beach has increased 25 percentage points. By 2014, the graduation rate at the school reached 79 percent, exceeding the district average. The school’s International Baccalaureate program has generated widespread acclaim, challenging students to high achievement and winning praise from parents.
“I am looking forward to this incredible opportunity to serve the kids and families of Seattle,” said Chappelle. “Throughout my career as an educator, I have seen students rise to new challenges again and again. As a community, we must always send the message that every student can achieve.”
Statewide studies have shown that readiness to learn in Kindergarten varies widely and that for many students of color, those from lower-income families, and immigrant and refugee students, an opportunity gap is evident in the first few weeks of school. That opportunity gap persists through elementary and secondary schools, leading to disparities in educational attainment between students of color and their peers.
Mayor Murray announced the creation of DEEL in September of 2014. DEEL’s mission is to foster opportunities for Seattle children to succeed in school and graduate from high school prepared for continuing education and success in the workplace.
Chappelle will seek to form stronger strategic partnerships with Seattle Public Schools, institutions of higher learning and other education stakeholders throughout the region, with an eye to improving outcomes for all Seattle children.
DEEL oversees the Seattle Preschool Program that seeks to provide high-quality preschool services for young children to help improve their readiness for school, regardless of family income.
Since 1990, the City’s Families and Education Levy has grown to fund community and school-based family supports, preschool programs, academic supports, summer learning opportunities, school-based health programs and other services for students. In 2015, DEEL will administer $32 million in grants and services funded by the levy.
Prior to joining Seattle Public Schools, Chappelle was an assistant principal in Arlington, Texas and Plano, Texas. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Grambling State University and his Masters of Secondary and Higher Education at Texas A&M University.
Chappelle will start with the City on Jan. 1, 2016 with an annual salary at the level of the current interim Director: $158,688.
In the meantime, interim Director Holly Miller will stay on with DEEL.
“My thanks to Holly for her incredible work to help stand up this new department,” said Murray. “Throughout her long career with the City, Holly has provided strong leadership and deep devotion to public service.”
Chappelle’s nomination requires review and approval by the Seattle City Council.