In a continued effort to oust the current Northshore School District board of directors, a group of parents and kids gathered outside the district offices on Monday, May 24 to protest the slow return to in-person learning. In attendance were various candidates vying for positions on the board up for election. After a year unlike any other, more contenders than usual are stepping to the plate for the Aug. 3 primary election.
Much of the contention on Monday was aimed at the incumbent challengers for securing partisan endorsements from the 45th District and 46th District Democrats. NSD parent Dominique France argues the position is nonpartisan and directors shouldn’t stand for any one issue.
“This is not about politics,” France said. “This is about children and their right to a quality education.”
Incumbent directors Sandy Hayes (pos. 4), Amy Cast (pos. 5) and Jacqueline McGourty (pos. 1) have each relaunched their campaigns for reelection in hopes of serving another four years in office.
Other candidates include Chris Roberdeau and Katya Bautista for District 4; Jasmine Fry, Amy Felt and Angela Chapman for District 5; and Elizabeth Crowley, Brian Travis and Michael Albrecht for District 1.
Nearly half of the candidates were present at the rally to hear from disgruntled parents and share their backgrounds.
Roberdeau, who attended the rally, said he comes from a family of educators and currently has two kids in the district. He said COVID-19 was the “straw on the camel’s back” that unearthed a lot of issues with the district. The board needs to focus more on the actual health and safety of students, he said, while also investing money in the right places and preparing kids for the future.
Chapman said she is running because the district needs leaders who are proactive. With three young children, she is motivated to give them the best education possible. The last year has opened her eyes to ways the school district and board can improve.
“It’s very clear that we have a leadership problem on our board,” she said. “They are not proactive. They are not doing what they should do to serve all students equitably.”
Her son, Gabe, spoke during public comment at the May 24 meeting about the impact of social distancing in schools. He reported feeling “punished and powerless” for not being allowed to interact or socialize with other friends at recess. The Cottage Lake Elementary fifth grader is looking forward to full-time, in-person learning this fall, he added, and the ability to high-five friends without consequences.
Felt agrees that things are broken within the school district and directors are “not focused on education.” There’s been a lot of inaction and empty talk from the board, she said. As a mother of five kids from kindergarten to high school, she wants education to be a priority again.
Albrecht, a member of the first graduating class of North Creek High School, said he feels very connected to the issues children are currently facing in the district because of the time he spent in it. He is throwing his hat in the ring to help combat mental health in students as a result of attending school online this last year.