Gus Underfoot hangs a Black Lives Matter flag underneath the Marysville School District sign during a protest on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Gus Underfoot hangs a Black Lives Matter flag underneath the Marysville School District sign during a protest on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Marysville teachers vote ‘no confidence’ in their school board

The union vote came after racist threats against students. The board this week condemned racism.

MARYSVILLE — Dozens of students, parents and teachers in the Marysville School District spoke out against racism Wednesday in response to the district’s handling of death threats against minority students.

Protesters outside district offices waved hand-painted signs with messages including, “Enough is Enough” and “It’s not a joke.”

About 85% of members of the teachers union who voted expressed “no confidence” in the Board of Directors, Marysville Education Association President Becky Roberts said at a school district meeting later that evening. The vote happened a few weeks earlier, she said.

On Wednesday the school board passed a resolution condemning racism.

Becky Roberts (top left), Marysville Education Association president, speaks to the Marysville School District Board of Directors. (Screen capture image)

Becky Roberts (top left), Marysville Education Association president, speaks to the Marysville School District Board of Directors. (Screen capture image)

Back in December, two students reportedly talked during an online class about killing specific Black students. Neither was criminally charged, and the district has said it cannot share specific details about student discipline.

About a month later, a 20-year-old Lake Stevens man used one of those students’ phones to post a threatening message and a photo of a gun on Snapchat, according to court records obtained by The Daily Herald through a public records request.

Investigators determined the gun in the photo was actually a realistic-looking BB gun. The man and others who knew him described the threat as a “joke” to detectives. The case has been forwarded to the Snohomish County prosecutor, with the recommendation that the man be charged with a hate crime.

Protestors stand along 80th Street NE in front of the Marysville School District Service Center on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Protestors stand along 80th Street NE in front of the Marysville School District Service Center on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

At the meeting Wednesday, Kristen Michal said she felt the district failed in its response. Two of her children attend Marysville schools.

“It took 3½ months, plus another death threat, before the district acted,” she said.

“The first incident was blatant, it was clearly racist, it was specific — that should be enough,” she added. “In a district that has already had a mass shooting, it should be more than enough.”

Roberts, the union leader, said the group has many concerns with the district and the direction it has been headed, as well as how the school board operates overall.

“These concerns include the board’s inability to make a decision on boundaries,” Roberts said, “which has perpetuated the racial and economic inequalities across our community and in our schools, and has literally used millions of dollars that could have been spent in supporting students in more responsible and equitable ways.”

Marysville Getchell High School opened in 2010 with small learning communities. Since then, students have chosen what school they attend, even though the district dropped smaller learning communities a few years ago.

In that time the district has talked about introducing neighborhood boundaries to determine where students would attend high school, but no plan has been put in place.

The union also feels the board has not been transparent with decision-making and that it has been unable to “secure and then retain a superintendent,” Roberts said.

Superintendent Jason Thompson has been on medical leave since March. Deputy Superintendent Lori Knudson has taken on his responsibilities.

Roberts ended by inviting the board to meet with the education association.

Protestors stand along 80th Street NE in front of the Marysville School District Service Center on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Protestors stand along 80th Street NE in front of the Marysville School District Service Center on Wednesday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

JJ Frank has two children who attend Marysville schools. He has said publicly they have been targeted by racist threats.

He has been involved with the district for decades, advocating for students to graduate and attend college. The past three years have been the most painful and traumatic for his family when it comes to racism, he said.

“Time after time this particular administration has failed our students,” he said. “I’ve had to fight for over three years just for the district to acknowledge that racism even exists in the school district and on our campuses, which we know interferes with learning.”

He asked the board to “turn the chapter on this administration.”

Later in the meeting, Board President Vanessa Edwards read aloud the new resolution.

In it, the board promised to develop a policy addressing racism and hate, to establish a district committee to address racial equity issues, to develop a plan to break down systemic racism and to put all employees through cultural competency training in the next two years.

“These are just words,” Edwards said. “They are no good without action.”

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the status of a Lake Stevens man’s criminal case. Detectives have recommended hate crime charges, but he has not been charged.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
Edmonds man barricaded in house arrested after 8-hour standoff

Police said he was brandishing a knife and threatening “homicidal violence” on his family.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman who lit her own Edmonds doll store on fire gets house arrest

Connie Bigelow, 54, was sentenced Friday in federal court for lighting her business on fire to collect insurance money.

Cassandra Lopez-Shaw
Snohomish County judge accused of ‘needlessly’ exposing staff to COVID

Adam Cornell argues the incident reinforces a need to suspend jury trials, as omicron wreaks havoc.

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Billionaire Bezos wants to bring free preschool to Everett

The Amazon founder’s program would be housed at Everett Station. Admission would be determined by lottery.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

A car drives by flowers placed at a memorial for two pedestrians killed at the corner of 204th Street NE and Highway 9 on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$500K bail for driver accused of killing 2 Arlington pedestrians

Elliott Bagley, 28, told an officer he’d had a couple beers before the crash Thursday, according to police.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Lake Stevens in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lake Stevens proposes cutting ties with Sno-Isle Libraries

Sno-Isle’s director called the move a “drastic and unnecessary action to privatize our shared public library.”

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

Most Read