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No charges will be filed in Everett School Board fracas

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By Diana Hefley and Scott North
Herald Writers
EVERETT -- None of the three Everett School Board directors involved in a physical scuffle in August will face criminal charges.
City prosecutors have finished reviewing the incident and concluded that there isn't enough evidence to support filing charges against board members Kristie Dutton, Jessica Olson or Ed Petersen, board president.
Lawyers looked at possible disorderly conduct and misdemeanor assault charges.
The prosecutors decided that there isn't "sufficient admissible evidence to make it probable that a reasonable and objective fact-finder would find that criminal conduct occurred," city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said Tuesday morning.
She said that prosecutors reviewed police reports, witness statements, and audio and video recordings made during the closed-door meeting. Prosecutors didn't question any of the school board members, Reardon said.
Board member Jeff Russell witnessed the scuffle but did not take part. He said city prosecutors made the correct decision.
"I'm grateful for that and certainly the response of the city is consistent with what I witnessed and reported in my statement to police," he said.
Olson said she was disappointed.
"I think it is pretty amazing that law enforcement seems to be giving the public a tacit message of approval that one-sided acts of physical aggression and lies and false statements to the police are acceptable," she said. "I feel that the video clearly shows the aggression came to me."
Petersen said that the Aug. 23 fracas has left a false impression about the school board. Since the event, the group has had five meetings spanning roughly 30 hours, and the work done in those meetings shows that all members of the board take their role seriously, he said.
Petersen said he hoped the prosecutors' decision would mean that the controversy "is behind us so that we can now get the public focused back on student achievement."
The scuffle broke out after Olson turned on her video camera during a dispute over conduct of an executive session. The other four board members objected to the camera; Olson said they were attempting to discuss matters that were inappropriate for a closed-door discussion.
Petersen reached for the camera. Dutton a short time later snatched away a document that Olson had placed on the table. Within minutes, Olson and Dutton were grappling over control of another document that Olson picked up from the table. That happened while Olson was being restrained by Petersen, according to police reports.
Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463;
Story tags » EverettEverett School District

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