Embattled Marysville school leader Michael Kundu says no to legislators meeting

MARYSVILLE — Embattled Marysville school leader Michael Kundu won’t meet with state lawmakers who condemned him for comments linking race with learning ability.

Those Democrat and Republican lawmakers sought the sit-down days after they sent Kundu a letter expressing outrage and indignation at his assertions. That June 14 letter signed by 23 legislators urged him to apologize and “act with honor in bringing closure to this appalling incident.”

Kundu said last week he saw no value in meeting with them as none tried to get his side of the story before signing the letter. Instead they “jumped at a chance to play ‘politics,’” he wrote in an e-mail response to questions.

“They acted rash and viscerally without doing their homework,” he wrote. “They were quick to judge, without exercising judicious diligence in learning of my actual track record, nor proactively seeking clarity or context of our discussion.”

Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, who did not sign the letter, had tried to arrange the meeting. Kundu has also responded to him expressing his reticence, Sells said.

“That’s his choice,” Sells said. “If he doesn’t want to meet, I can’t force him.”

This doesn’t extinguish the firestorm ignited by Kundu.

He’s under pressure from community leaders and board members to resign. He has not said yet if he will step down or try to serve his full term, which runs through 2013.

Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, one of the initiators of the letter, said Kundu’s refusal to meet “shows his arrogance and why he should not be there.

“He’s failed to meet with Marysville community leaders. He’s failed his colleagues on the school board and he’s disgraced himself,” Hope said. “He should have resigned.”

Kundu, who works in external affairs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is the center of attention because of e-mails he wrote to school officials last month in which he argued racial genetics were a “definitive factor” in learning ability. As support, he cited a much criticized study by a Canadian psychologist ranking the intellect of the races.

He has since apologized for making a definitive conclusion and faulted the original study, calling it the work of a racist. He said he was trying to spur debate, not promote discrimination.

On June 21, his fellow school board members voted to censure Kundu, calling his comments on racial genetics and academic success “inexcusable, utterly baseless and highly offensive.” They requested his immediate resignation from the board, which he was first elected to in 2003.

Last year, voters elected Kundu to a new four-year term.

Kundu has said he won’t announce a decision until later this summer.

Reporter Andy Rathbun contributed to this report.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623, jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Julie Timm
Sound Transit’s $375K payout to ex-CEO didn’t buy help

Board members said Julie Timm would give professional advice to them or a future CEO after leaving, but she hasn’t been called upon.

FILE -- An engine on a Boeing 767 jet aircraft, at a Boeing facility in Everett, Wash., March 7, 2012. The Boeing 737 engine that failed on Southwest Flight 1380 is not the only one that has caught the eye of regulators: Engines on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and 767 have also failed, prompting questions about their design and inspection procedures. (Stuart Isett/The New York Times)
Boeing 767, built in Everett, gets 5-year lifeline from Congress

Boeing would have been forced to end production of the 767 Freighter in 2027 due to new emissions rules if not for the extension.

Snohomish County Jail. (Herald file)
Inmate, 51, dies at Snohomish County Jail

Around 3 p.m., corrections staff called 911 about an inmate, who became unresponsive as firefighters arrived. He died at the scene.

With the Olympic mountains in the background, Boeing's 777x lifts off from Paine Field on its first flight, to Boeing Field in Seattle, on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 in Everett, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
1 dead, dozens injured after turbulence on Boeing plane

A Singapore Airlines flight from London was diverted to Bangkok, where more than 70 people were being treated for injuries.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Idaho man identified in fatal trooper shooting on I-5 near Everett

The deceased man was Marvin Arellano, 31, of Nampa, Idaho, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.

State Sen. Mark Mullet, left, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, are both running as Democrats for governor in 2024. (Photos provided)
Did Bob Ferguson go too far responding to fellow Fergusons?

Ferguson wanted the secretary of state to redo the ballot. Mark Mullet, a Democratic rival, says such a move would’ve broken the law.

Photo by Gina Shields of GM Photography
Whidbey Island to salute the fallen for Memorial Day

All are invited to honor those who have fallen at three events on Whidbey Island.

Boeing firefighters and supporters hold an informational picket at Airport Road and Kasch Park Road on Monday, April 29, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Boeing union firefighters to vote on new contract proposal

The company made the offer after “a productive session” of bargaining and reported the amended contract includes an “improved wage growth schedule.”

Catholic Community Services NW Director of Housing Services and Everett Family Center Director Rita Jo Case, right, speaks to a man who asked to remain anonymous, left, during a point-in-time count of people facing homelessness in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Homelessness down nearly 10% in Snohomish County, annual count shows

The county identified 1,161 people without permanent housing, down from 1,285 last year. But lack of resources is still a problem, advocates said.

Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor Craig Matheson on Wednesday, May 15, 2024 in Everett, Washington. Matheson retires this month after 35 years in the prosecutor's office. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
For decades, he prosecuted Snohomish County’s most high-stakes cases

“When you think of a confident prosecutor, you see a picture of Craig (Matheson) in the dictionary.” Or in the thesaurus, flip to “prepared.”

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.