After a year of remote learning, students in Seattle began returning to school on Monday, and some parents are outraged.
That’s not the reaction you generally expect, given how hard most parents across this fruited plain have been lobbying to get their kids back in the classroom. And, in fact, it’s not what’s in the classroom that has parents up in arms.
Instead, it’s what awaits students on their school grounds — namely, homeless encampments.
According to a Wednesday KIRO-TV report, the camps at two schools in the city, Broadview-Thomson K-8 and Meany Middle School, have parents furious. And yet, members of the school board are asking the city not to move them.
“I just think it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Broadview-Thomson parent Serena Evans. The encampment behind that school, which started last summer, now consists of over 50 tents. Even though special education students started in-person learning on Monday and all middle school students will be able to return on April 19, the camps remain where they are.
“I knew it had gotten bad but I didn’t realize how out of control it was,” said Evans, who told KIRO she’s witnessed drug deals and fights on the grounds.
“To have my daughter running around — not to pass judgment but usually with homeless encampments, there are drugs which means needles.”
The school now has a security guard and has locked a gate that leads to a playground. However, by locking it, it also blocks one of the two paths for students to walk to the school.
“You question the judgment of those in charge of keeping your children safe,” said Ryle Goodrich, who was sending his 6-year-old son back to Broadview-Thomson on Monday, according to KOMO-TV.
“I am calling on the school board to allow Mayor Jenny Durkan to take care of these encampments as she has in the past, which would be to offer services and then guide campers out of the park and let children return to school.”
— *Wear a mask 😷* (@ReNeeNeeDear) February 17, 2021
The problem is that’s the opposite of what Durkan — the thoroughly spineless mayor of the Emerald City, infamous for saying last summer that the lawless CHAZ/CHOP occupied encampment had a “block party atmosphere” — is intent upon doing.
“We all have seen an increase in homelessness during the pandemic,” Durkan told KIRO. “The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] said we had to leave people in place and it’s having significant impacts on communities.”
Meany Middle School is right next to Miller Park, where Durkan said the city had been doing outreach “[t]o move people out of the park into somewhere safe and to clean up the park.
“We’ve been working with the school district on as you know — their property. They have a responsibility for working on it and we’ve been trying to give them some of our assistance,” Durkan said.
Some Seattle parents peeved that nothing done to remove homeless encampments at Meany Middle School & Broadview Thompson K-8 before kids returned to class. https://t.co/4iNDFvosyn
— ElisaJaffe (@ElisaJaffe) April 5, 2021
Don’t expect the Seattle School Board to put pressure on Durkan to clean up the schools, either. In fact, they’ve put pressure on her to do just the opposite.
“Our students deserve to see the adults in their lives behave compassionately … we demand sweeps never be used on school grounds, adjacent or elsewhere in this City,” read a statement posted on Facebook by Seattle School Board President Chandra Hampson and Director Zachary DeWolf.
Watch this video of the homeless encampment at Meany Middle School and in adjacent Miller Park, posted to Facebook Tuesday by conservative Seattle radio host Jason Rantz, and ask yourself whether these board members are being compassionate to students there by refusing a sweep of the camp:
You would think that kind of footage would spark immediate changes. However, a written statement from the school district last Friday promised only vague action.
“We are working in partnership with the City of Seattle to support community members residing at the encampment near Meany Middle School. SPS will be identifying the area of the encampment that is close to the school, supporting City contracted outreach partners to identify solutions to challenges, and making clear the boundaries between city property and district grounds,” the statement read.
“The pandemic has deepened inequities, including access to housing. This is not a problem with easy solutions, but we are committed to working in partnership to address it together and do so in a compassionate way. Our schools will reopen in a phased approach as planned.
“Middle School students enrolled in special education intensive service pathways will return next Monday, April 5. All other middle school students will return April 19th.”
After a year of being out of school and months to sort this out, is this the proper response? Can students coexist with the encampments? Fox News’ Lawrence Jones visited the sites and said there were needles “everywhere,” which doesn’t speak of a safe (or compassionate) learning environment.
“You would think government has a responsibility to keep folks safe [and] would get them out of the area and put them in a safe area where they’re not around kids,” Jones told “Fox & Friends.”
“Parents have just had enough.”
That they have.
“Let’s see what we can do for them,” Evans said of the homeless campers. “This isn’t benefiting the kids and this isn’t benefiting the people living there. The people who are homeless are not getting treatment.”
Ryle Goodrich was blunter: “I know a lot of parents who wanted to send their children back to school but are unwilling to because they don’t feel safe,” he said, telling KOMO he wanted to pull his child out of the school. “We are house shopping already — out of Seattle.”
If this is the best the city can offer parents, one guesses he won’t be alone.
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