Marysville School Board calls on Kundu to quit

MARYSVILLE — To a 20-second burst of applause, the Marysville School Board called Monday night for the immediate resignation of board member Michael Kundu.

The board approved, 4-0, a censure of Kundu in front of a crowd of more than 70 people, calling his comments on racial genetics and academic success “inexcusable, utterly baseless and highly offensive.”

The board also declined to vote on Kundu’s request for a sabbatical.

Kundu was absent from the meeting. He is in Washington, D.C. through June 25 for his job with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

He is considering resigning but has not made a final decision. He said via e-mail that the board’s censure will not influence him.

“Any decision will be based on my personal convictions,” he said via e-mail.

School officials said they couldn’t recall the board ever asking a fellow member to step down. The symbolic gesture isn’t enforceable.

Board members said the controversy was an unfortunate distraction during graduation time.

“We are going to work past this,” board member Chris Nation said. “We’re going to make things better throughout the community.”

Kundu’s remarks came during a discussion on the achievement gap — the way minority groups trail their peers in school. Nearly 12,000 children attend the district. About a third are minorities.

In e-mails to school officials, he argued earlier this month that racial genetics were a “definitive factor” in learning ability. As support, Kundu pointed to a study by a Canadian psychologist who ranked the intellect of the races.

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

He now is considering resigning “for the benefit of the students,” but also could stay to fight for freedom of speech.

If he stays, he could face a recall election. The Tulalip Tribes are considering that option.

Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455; arathbun@heraldnet.com

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