The Edmonds School Board unanimously passed a resolution during its regular meeting on Tuesday, March 13. The resolution states the board’s support of gun safety legislation, declares opposition to arming educators and supports the March for Our Lives to be held on March 24.
A group of community members held a rally before the meeting and spoke in favor of the resolution. After making some amendments to the resolution, it was unanimously passed by the Edmonds School Board.
Resolution No. 18-22 states support for policy changes such as banning the sale of semi-automatic rifles, supporting prevention programs to reduce gun violence and increasing funding for programs and school staff to support mental health, among other items. The resolution states these changes are needed because such legislation could help strengthen the safety of schools and students because guns present a clear and present danger to those inside schools. (Read the resolution before amendments by clicking this link.)
Amendments to the resolution include urging Gov. Jay Inslee to request a special legislative session to make these legislative changes, and adding a clause stating the need for additional state funding to reduce class sizes through 12th grade so teachers can better evaluate the needs of their students.
Many from the community agreed with the position of the resolution.
Laura Johnson, of Edmonds, said her oldest child was born one year after the shooting at Columbine. Her son was in first grade when the shooting in Sandy Hook killed 20 first graders and six teachers.
“When I talked to him after Parkland (one month ago), he was sad, but not surprised,” Johnson said. “He has never known a reality where school shootings were not a regular occurrence.”
Her daughter Sierra Johnson, a senior at Edmonds Heights, also spoke to the board, saying how she has aspirations of becoming a teacher.
“I hope that by the time I am a teacher, with my first classroom of students, that I have more reassurances than today’s teachers have,” she said. “Kids are now leading this movement not because we want to, but because we have to. Our lives depend on it.”
Kristen Nyquist, of Lynnwood, noted that policy change can only come after cultural change. She said the school board is in a unique position of making local policy changes and voicing that cultural change to other policy makers.
Student Adviser Olachi Mbara, of Meadowdale High School, said she was glad to see the resolution pass. For her, active shooter drills are especially emotional because she said she worries about the safety of those around her.
“It’s getting exhausting time and time again to try to formulate escape routes,” she said. “It’s especially scary if you have siblings. It’s not just about you anymore, it’s about your whole family.”
Student Adviser Jacob Dodd, of Mountlake Terrace High School, was glad to see so many people speak out about the issue.
“This is how people actually make a difference, and it’s awesome,” he said.
School board members thanked Board Member Carin Chase for bringing the resolution forward.
“It’s pretty horrible that we even have to put a resolution like this up,” said Board Member Gary Noble. “But if there’s a silver lining to it all, it’s that the community have come forward to support us. I hope when this many people come together that there will actually be some good results.”
Chase thanked the board for unanimously adopting the resolution.
Superintendent Kris McDuffy said the Edmonds School District community is a special one that she is proud to serve.
Board Member Ann McMurray echoed the thoughts of her fellow district leaders.
“I was struck by the comment that policy change comes with culture change,” she said. “Here, we see that culture change starts with a couple of moms sitting at a kitchen table asking what we can do, how we can make a difference.”
–Story and photos by Natalie Covate