Edmonds superintendent responds to NAACP’s countywide call regarding hate crimes

Dr. Gustavo Balderas

After the NAACP Snohomish County earlier this week called on all Snohomish County school districts to better respond to hate crimes, the Edmonds School District this week issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to standing against racism.

The NAACP statement, issued Monday, was related to a December 2020 incident at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. Two students openly said “Let’s kill all the Black people,” while in a Zoom breakout room during the high school’s Associated Student Body Junior Leadership class.

Several Black students were identified by name and one of the students making the threats posted a photo to their personal Snapchat account featuring a handgun and threats to “kill minorities.” The students involved were subsequently suspended and relocated to a different school in the district.

On Monday, the NAACP Snohomish County issued a statement calling on all Snohomish County school districts to institute an “independent oversight process” for third-party complaints reporting, and an investigation system in response to hate crimes.  The organization also asked districts to institute a zero-tolerance policy for hate crimes and for retaliation those reporting hate crimes. In addition, the organization called on the Marysville School District, police department and Snohomish County to treat the incidents as hate crimes.

According to Washington State Law, a hate crime is defined as a person “maliciously and intentionally committing one of the following acts because of his or her perception of the victim’s race, color…” or “threatens a specific person or group of persons and places that person, or members of the specific group of persons, in reasonable fear of harm to person or property…”

In a signed statement released earlier this week, Superintendent Gustavo Balderas said the Edmonds School District has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of hate. He also referred to the district’s own Race and Equity and Anti- Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying policies, saying staff have a foundation to “guide the critical work needed to prevent, address and respond to actions that disrupt or cause harm to our school communities.”

He also encouraged families to get involved with the district’s Equity Alliance for Achievement (EACH), which he said is “a family and community advisory group focusing on building inclusive school communities that recognize, respond to and are inclusive of the diversity in the school community.”

–By Cody Sexton

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