education

Rebecca White/SPR

As school districts navigate their second year of pandemic-era instruction, school boards of directors are facing escalating hostility.

The increased attention has ranged from more participation at school board meetings, to harassment, to threats and intimidation.

Education leaders are calling for patience and civility.

Debbie Long has served on the Central Valley School Board since 2003. She says in 18 years, she’s presided over contentious issues, but none as divisive as masks and coronavirus vaccinations.

Coeur d'Alene School Board

Two members of the Coeur d'Alene School Board announced their resignations Friday, effective immediately.

The decisions from board chair Jennifer Brumley and trustee Tambra Pickford came a week after a scheduled board meeting that was to have considered a mask requirement for schools. That meeting was cancelled after angry anti-mask protestors showed up. In a September 28 letter to parents, Brumley wrote that she was concerned about her own safety and the safety of others at the meeting.

Rebecca White/SPR

Voters overwhelmingly backed an Eastern Washington University professor and a financial advisor for an open school board position, narrowing a crowded field. A stay at home mom and operations manager at a food bank pulled ahead in the race for the other open school board seat.

Spokane Public Schools

This spring two black students at Sacajawea Middle School said their teacher had subjected them to an offensive, and traumatizing lesson where they were told to clean cotton in class. Spokane Public Schools hired a third-party to investigate a complaint filed by the ACLU on the student’s behalf.

That investigation was released to the public Friday.

According to the report, investigators verified that a cotton cleaning lesson did occur, but students were not forced to participate.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Jake Leadingham

Jul 26, 2021
Jake Leadingham

Thirteen candidates are running for two seats on the Spokane Public School Board of directors. Our Rebecca White spoke to nine of those candidates in a series of interviews that airing on Spokane Public Radio.

Jake Leadingham is a member of the National Guard and also works as an analyst. 

Leadingham said he is primarily running because he is concerned that the school board is promoting critical race theory.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Kenneth Cameron

Jul 26, 2021
Ken Cameron

Two openings on the Spokane Public School Board have attracted 13 candidates.

Nine of those candidates agreed to interviews with Spokane Public Radio that are airing during the primary election.

Today, we’re introducing Ken Cameron, who recently retired as the owner of a promotional products business.

He said he's running on behalf of school board constients who currently don't feel heard. 

Corstian Dehle-Jones

As Spokane Public School Board rounds out a headline making year, two members have chosen not to file for reelection.

Thirteen candidates have filed for those two positions. Nine agreed to interviews with Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White.

Candidate Corstian Dehle-Jones is a union shop steward and grew up in the greater Spokane area. He said he is running to promote options outside of a four year degree from a university and is supportive of racial equity measures the school district is implementing.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Riley Smith

Jul 26, 2021
Riley Smith

Two open Spokane Public School Board of Directors seats have attracted 13 candidates.

Nine of those candidates agreed to speak to Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White.

Riley Smith works at a food bank non-profit and is a North Central High School Alumni. He said he’s focusing on the growing mental health needs in public schools and the need for tech and trade school opportunities.

Interviews with other candidates are airing this week and on spokanepublicradio.org.

Spokane Public School Candidate: Rion Ametu

Jul 23, 2021

Thirteen candidates are running for two open seats on the Spokane Public Schools Board.

Nine of those candidates agreed to interviews with Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White.

Today, we’re introducing candidate Rion Ametu. He is a Navy Veteran and Fed Ex driver, who said he is running to ensure the school board follows through its pledge to improve racial equity.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Kata Dean

Jul 21, 2021
Courtesy of Kata Dean

Spokane Public School District voters will see 13 candidates on their ballot for two open positions this year. 

Nine of those candidates agreed to speak with Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White. 

Today we’re introducing Kata Dean. She is a stay at home mother of 5 who said her highest priority is getting children back in school, and caught up after a year at home.

Courtesy of Karina Hernandez.

Thirteen candidates are running for two seats on the Spokane Public School Board of directors. Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White spoke to ten of those candidates in a series of interviews.

Today, we’ll hear from Karina Hernandez. She is a stay-at-home mother who says she's running in hopes of increasing resources for children with non-traditional learning styles and disabilities. 

Spokane Public School Board Candidate Daryl Geffken

Jul 20, 2021
Daryl Geffken

Spokane school board seats are in high demand this year. Thirteen candidates are running for two open seats during the August primary election.

Spokane Public Radio’s Rebecca White has spoken with nine of those candidates in the run-up to election. Today she talks with Daryl Geffken.

Spokane Public School Board Candidate: Melissa Bedford

Jul 19, 2021
Courtesy of Melissa Bedford

Spokane Public Radio has spoken to nine of the 13 candidates who are running for Spokane Public School Board of Directors.

An excerpt of an interview with each candidate will air in July and full interviews with each candidate is available online.

Spokane Public Radio's Rebecca White spoke with candidate Melissa Bedford.

Rebecca White/SPR

Afterschool and summer programs that help children in northeast Spokane connect with safe recreation activities, literacy and science programs just received a $2 million boost from the federal government.

Since 2018 afterschool programs at northeast Spokane schools have introduced children to swimming lessons, new parks and educational opportunities.

Spokane Public Schools

The Spokane school board voted this week to change the identities of several schools. Most notably, it renamed Sheridan Elementary after Spokane civil rights leader Frances Scott.

Jerrall Haynes, chair of the Spokane Public School Board, said he fully supported the new name, and said it was personally significant to him.

Spokane Public School Board Approves New Boundaries

Jul 1, 2021
Courtesy of Spokane Public Schools

The Spokane Public Schools Board unanimously approved new boundaries during its Wednesday night meeting, the district’s first major boundary change in 40 years.

Spokane Public Schools' new boundaries are designed to keep neighborhoods of students, and cohorts of children together during the transition from elementary to middle school to high school.

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is now requiring students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the college this fall.

According to a news release Thursday, all students who participate in classes on campus this fall must show proof of vaccination, though medical, or religious exceptions will be available.

Online graduate students are exempt from the new requirement.

Gonzaga joins several other universities in Washington state in requiring vaccination against COVID-19 including Washington State University, Eastern Washington State University and University of Washington.

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Spokane Public Schools is facing allegations of racism after a middle school teacher asked her students to clean cotton in class, an incident that left the only black students in the classroom feeling humiliated, say their representatives.

Spokane Falls Community College

Local governments and critical public infrastructure are increasingly becoming the target of cyber-attacks. But some of those governments are working with a network of community colleges, technical schools and state universities to try to protect themselves, and give students an opportunity to get real-world training.

Spokane School Board Names Three New Middle Schools

May 26, 2021

The Spokane Public School Board has unanimously voted to name their new middle schools after a Japanese civil rights activist, the woman who saved the Spokane Salish language, and a Holocaust freedom fighter.

Spokane’s new middle schools will be named after Denny Yasuhara, Pauline Flett and Carla Peperzak.

On Wednesday the Spokane Public School Board will choose names for three new middle schools.

The School Board will choose between the names of several civil rights icons, historical figures and community leaders.

Rebecca White/SPR

Hundreds of students, the youngest of which just became eligible this week, were vaccinated Friday at the Spokane Public Schools Pfizer immunization clinic.

Spokane Tribe Says No To Native American Mascots

May 7, 2021
Rebecca White/SPR

Washington has a new law that bans schools from using Native American imagery without a tribe’s consent. The Spokane Tribe says it won’t be endorsing any such proposals.

The Reardan-Edwall, Wellpinit and Spokane school districts all currently use Native American themed mascots. North Central High School in Spokane and Reardan-Edwall, which is spread between Lincoln and Spokane Counties and has many students from the tribe, both use Indians. Wellpinit uses the term “Redskins.”

Downtown Spokane Partnership

After pressure from downtown businesses, a professional soccer league and many community members, the Spokane Public Schools Board voted to build an outdoor stadium downtown.

Former EWU President Mary Cullinan Dies

May 3, 2021
Courtesy of EWU

Eastern Washington University’s former president Mary Cullinan has died.

Interim President David May announced her death to the campus in a statement Monday.

Downtown Spokane Partnership

The Public Facilities District accepted Spokane Public Schools' terms to operate a stadium downtown during their meeting Friday.

Rebecca White/SPR

North Central High School has received overwhelming support to retire its mascot, the Indians, and pursue a different symbol to represent the school.

Dozens of alumni, current students and parents called in to a public forum sponsored by the Spokane School District Tuesday night. They shared their concern about how using a stereotypical image of a Native American can be damaging to Indigenous students.

Downtown Spokane Partnership

The Spokane Public Schools Board voted 4-1 to start negotiations with the entity that owns the Spokane Arena on parameters for building an outdoor stadium downtown.

Downtown Spokane Partnership

Spokane residents can again weigh in on whether they prefer a new stadium downtown, or on Joe Albi’s current site.

Spokane Public Schools is set to begin construction on a replacement for Joe Albi on its current site starting next month. But, last week the School Board decided to ask the public if they wanted a stadium downtown after a proposal from coalition of hospitality groups and a professional soccer league.

Wikimedia Commons

North Central High School will consider officially changing its mascot after a group of Native American students raised concerns that the symbol is dehumanizing to Indigenous people.

North Central High School has had an Indian as its mascot for almost 100 years, adopting it in 1923. In the 1990s students voted to not use the symbol for athletic events, but it is still visible on school property, and the image is used by the Alumni Association.

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