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Bartlett High School is a high school in Anchorage, Alaska. The high school enrolled 1,729 students as of 2007. Built in 1971, the school originally housed both Bartlett High School, named after U.S. Senator Bob Bartlett, and Begich Junior High School, named after U.S. Representative Nick Begich.
Bartlett is part of the Anchorage School District and is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges. Its attendance area is northeast Anchorage, Fort Richardson, and Elmendorf Air Force Base, and approximately 25% of its students are military dependents. The student body is racially and ethnically diverse. About 43.7% of the students are white, 18.9% are black, 6.1% are Hispanic, 13.5% are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 17.8% are American Indian/Alaska Native.
The school district's 2003-2004 Profile of Performance reported three goals: "Improve school climate" (attained), "increase percentage of students passing HSGQE Math by 5%" (partially attained) and "reduce dropout rate" (attained). The dropout rate in 2003-4 was 7.3%.
Bartlett is classified as a 4A school by the Alaska School Activities Association.
Like other senior-junior school complexes in the Anchorage School District during the 1960s to the early 1970s, the complex housing Bartlett was originally given two names, one for the senior high school and one for the junior high school. In line with this, the complex housing Bartlett was called Bartlett-Begich, denoting Bartlett High School (named after Sen. Bob Bartlett) and Begich Junior High School (named after Rep. Nick Begich). During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Anchorage School Board began to change all of these complexes into high schools and to create separate junior high schools (now known as middle schools) as new facilities could be constructed, in each case moving the original junior high school name as the new junior high school was built. Hence, the complexes formerly known as Chugiak-Gruening became Chugiak High School and Gruening Middle School, Service-Hanshew became Service High School and Hanshew Middle School, and so on.
At the time the school now named Benny Benson Secondary School (an alternative school originally paired as a junior high with East High School, opened in 1991) was designed and built, it was not anticipated that a junior high school in the northeast Anchorage area would be built. The family of Nick Begich was asked if they would like the new facility named after Begich (rather than Benny Benson), but the family asked rather that the Begich's name remain on the Bartlett High School building until a new junior high could be built in the area, with the assumption that Begich's name would be transferred to that school. Thereafter, Bartlett-Begich remained technically associated with the school building, but Begich's name was not used on Bartlett High School diplomas, in official documents, or in Anchorage School District communications regarding the school; it was retained only in the words "Bartlett — Begich" painted on the southeast wall of the high school building.
In November 2006, the Anchorage School Board made official that the name of a new middle school in Anchorage would be named after Begich. Nicholas J. Begich Middle School opened for classes on August 22, 2007.
Like other Anchorage School District schools, Bartlett High School has occasionally been the target of vandalism. In May 1999, six Bartlett seniors were suspended and their right to march at commencement with their class revoked after they carved their names into acoustic ceiling tiles in the senior hallway. The Anchorage School Board later relented and permitted the six students to participate in graduation ceremonies.
A more serious case occurred on November 2, 2003 when a stand-alone relocatable classroom was destroyed by fire, causing an estimated $89,500 in damage. Two Anchorage teenagers — an 18-year-old former Bartlett student and a 16-year-old Steller Secondary student — were arrested a week later and charged with tampering with evidence, criminally negligent burning and criminal mischief. The adult defendant in the case was ultimately found guilty on an amended charge of Criminal Mischief 3 (Damage $500+) after a no-contest plea.
Teacher Gordon "Satch" Carlson was fired in disgrace for having sexual relations with a female student. Teacher Richard Von Kennen retired prior to taking a plea agreement to consent with a minor in 1997.
Carlson, an English, journalism and film teacher, and columnist for the Anchorage Daily News and AutoWeek in the 1980s (and one-time editor of the school newspaper, then called the Toklat Ledger), faced three felony criminal charges in August 1989 involving his sexual relationship with a 17-year-old Bartlett senior that could have sent him to prison for eight years. At least four female students made allegations about Carlson, but only one student's allegations resulted in charges. The charges were dismissed in January 1999 because the student was above the age of 16, the age of legal consent in Alaska; the judge also found that a law raising the age of consent to 18 in cases in which a child is entrusted to an adult's care "by authority of law" applied to court-ordered guardians, but not to teachers. The student sued Carlson in civil court in 1991.
Meanwhile, Anchorage School District filed a lawsuit against the Anchorage Police Department and local prosecutors after a two-day police raid on Bartlett High School—its legality disputed by the school district—found documents showing that the school district had given Carlson a 2.5% bonus and a promise of secrecy in exchange for his resignation. The school district argued that as the age of consent in Alaska was 16, the district had no legal obligation to report Carlson's behavior to law enforcement. The agreement between the school district and Carlson specified that he wouldn't seek a teaching job while his current Alaska teaching license remained in effect and that he wouldn't seek to renew his Alaska license. Only if Carlson violated the agreement would the school district report him to the Alaska Professional Teaching Practices Commission (PTPC) and seek to have him officially barred from teaching. Thus, if Carlson adhered to the agreement, there were no safeguards to prevent him from seeking a teaching position outside the state. All but one of the allegations by the school district against Anchorage Police Department were dismissed in the summer of 1990, and ultimately the school district and police department settled, ending 10 months of litigation that cost the two Anchorage city departments a total of over one million dollars. A grand jury report in the civil case heavily criticized Bartlett and school district administrators for their handling of the Carlson case and exonerated the police department of any wrongdoing in the October 1989 search at Bartlett.
In reaction to the Satch Carlson case, the Alaska State Professional Teaching Practices Commission adopted a new regulation that specifically prohibited any sex at all between teachers and students. The Alaska Legislature passed the so-called "Satch Carlson law," making sex between an adult and any person under age 18 illegal if the adult occupied a position of authority over the minor. The law also made sex with a minor under age 16 a more serious felony if the adult offender was a teacher.
Richard Von Kennen was a music teacher at Bartlett from 1973 to May 1996 when he was fired after being charged under the Satch Carlson law with seven felony counts of child sexual abuse involving a student. His victim had been 14 at the time he initiated sexual contact. If found guilty Von Kennen could have received a maximum sentence of 30 years on each count. After the story broke, two other women, former students, came forward with accusations against him, but no further charges resulted. Von Kennen eventually made a plea agreement and pled no contest to one felony charge of sexually abusing a minor. He received a five-year prison sentence.
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