‘Students are hurting’: Ingraham HS saw dip in attendance, surge in drug, alcohol use after shooting

A newly released report from Seattle Public Schools gives us our first insight into the effect last year’s tragic shooting at Ingraham High School had on students.

The report comes as part of a proposal to accept nearly $500,000 in federal funds for increased security and mental health resources at Ingraham in the coming school year. It details research showing just how difficult it was for students and staff in the wake of the shooting.

For 9th-11th graders, attendance dropped between 4-5% in the months after the shooting. Attendance for 12th graders dropped by 11%, with a noted increase in the number of seniors who needed waivers to graduate.

“The impact can best be seen in 12-grade students,” the report reads. “Many of them have had to apply for graduation waivers because they failed one or two classes necessary for graduation. Data collected in April 2023 demonstrated that the 2022-23 senior class bypassed the 2021-22 senior class on percent of students needing waivers to graduate.”

Additionally, the school saw a “significant” surge in disciplinary incidents, particularly related to drug and alcohol use.

“Data suggest students used drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress and a sense of fear that resulted from the shooting,” the report says. “In 2021-22, there were two incidents of drug and alcohol that warranted discipline. In 2022-23, the number jumped to 16.”

A “considerable” number of students with anxiety and depression also reported to the school nurse, with over 189 mental health referrals received.

Staff absences saw an uptick as well, increasing from 1,920 in the 2021-2022 school year to 2,332 in 2022-2023.

The federal funds for security and mental health resources will be considered in a Seattle School Board meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The hope is to have the money “restore the learning environment” at Ingraham High School.

That would include the addition of a “house administrator,” who would be responsible for “reentry meetings with students who have been disciplined,” coordinating with families to talk through attendance issues, and “offering support in teaching social emotional learning.”

The money would also go toward the addition of a school security specialist.

“Review of the data suggests Ingraham students and staff are hurting and with adequate resources and support, can get back to a routine of consistency, predictability, and structure within the Ingraham school community,” the report concludes.