I’m writing in response to your May 10 article, “Evans: Racist claims lack details for investigation.”
Students in the North Kitsap School District have had a few tumultuous months. In February a student died of suicide. The following day, a student made a mass shooting threat. The district gave vague information regarding both, with the principal calling the shooting threat a “rumor.” Police reports describe something far more dangerous. Then in late April another mass shooting threat. The district finally sent an email to parents a number of days later.
Around that same time, a different student, wearing Nazi regalia and posing with a gun, posted a photo on social media. Poulsbo police arrested him and turned him over to the county prosecutor, who declined to press charges. The prosecutor is now re-reviewing the case after being held accountable by the public.
In November of 2022, the high school principal held a meeting with over 40 members of the Latino community, allowing them to share what their families were experiencing. The school had received information from parents about racist incidents.
In a written response, the district stated it is “deeply saddened” by the examples shared and that the district is “grateful that our students and families feel safe in talking about these concerns with us.”
Your May 10 article is significantly different than the previous statement.
Following the November meeting, the district charged the Latino/a/x community with creating a document with their requests and what could be done to create a more inclusive environment. The Latino/a/x community did that, with the written support of local state legislators, and was met with silence from the district. The community has been trying, ever since, to get the district to come to the table for dialogue.
At the April 13 NK school board meeting, superintendent Laurynn Evans threatened multiple times to call 911 when public member asked to speak. Public comment is allotted to 30 minutes, with a maximum of three minutes per person. Evans cut off public comment at 12 minutes and repeated her 911 threats.
NK has the most exclusive rules of any local school board. Evans states that the meetings cannot be recorded, which is not true, and that the 25 minutes of online-only speaker signup is for equity and fairness. Having signups only online limits access. How is a parent supposed to sign up virtually and drive to the meeting at the same time?
Many people wonder what NK is hiding. Parents and caregivers desire transparency.
Your article states: “Evans said one person seems to be behind most of the complaints, and that person has stirred up others, but that the district is not hearing complaints from students or their families. The district has not received a surge in reports that would suggest racism is a huge problem.”
There have been nearly 100 reports of racism filed with the NKSD equity officer. Evans has told families she “cannot speak to them because of an active outside investigation into the reports.” A community member recently spoke with said investigator who had not received any information from Evans.
The April 27 school board meeting was packed. Evans started the meeting by reading a 10-minute statement boasting about all she’s done, gave reasons why she can’t be racist and told us some social media posts hurt her feelings.
What she didn’t do is apologize or offer empathy for what families and students are going through.
When it was time for public comment, person after person, including an eighth-grade student, shared stories of racism, antisemitism, homophobia, discrimination and more. Members of the Jewish, Native, Black and Latin communities united in the same message; their children are not safe in NK schools, and the district isn’t doing anything about it.
Evans attended an NAACP Town HallMay 8 in Poulsbo. She refused to answer why she would not meet with Latino families and instead reiterated that she is “listening.” That meeting was also packed.
You have given a megaphone to a person who has not shown integrity, empathy or the ability to be honest. Instead, your article seeks to discredit and harm the reputation of one of our leaders, who is doing brave work despite immense personal cost.
You should highlight the work of KAIRE, Kitsap ERACE, Kitsap SURJ, Kitsap Black Student Union, and community leaders such as Maria Fergus, Danielle Castillejo, Kimi Kinoshita, Karen Vargas, Pam Keeley and more.
Our kids deserve better, and it is us as adults who must make the changes. I hope you’ll consider the impact your words have and the words you choose to print/post.