In an effort to unite our community and move forward, we have joined a coalition of parent, student, educator, and labor groups to collaborate on a resolution ensuring direct and equitable community involvement in selecting the next BSD superintendent. This resolution calls for the School Board to empower a committee, representative of Bellevue’s diverse community, to directly select candidates for consideration as the next BSD superintendent.
We the undersigned, representing multiple stakeholder and affinity groups across the Bellevue School District, are upset, dismayed, and disappointed with the recent resignation of Dr. Ivan Duran the former BSD superintendent and the role that the Bellevue School District School Board has played in that decision.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, escalating over the course of the 2020-2021 school year, the BSD School Board has taken an increasingly hostile stance and disrespectful tone in School Board meetings towards BSD leaders and educators who make educating our children possible. Among other things, we believe the micromanagement leadership approach this School Board has taken when interacting with district leaders on issues of operations and policy implementation has created a demoralizing culture of distrust and frustration that detracts from the essential work of serving students and families. In addition, we believe the BSD School Board has failed to live up to several Washington State School Directors’ Association (WSSDA) Washington School Board Standards and guiding principles, in particular those that demand they “create conditions for district-wide student and staff success,” and several benchmarks including:
· Standard 1a, b, and c – “Conducting board and district business in and fair, respectful, and responsible manner”; being “open and accountable to the public including seeking divergent perspectives”; and “respecting and advocating mutual understanding of the roles and responsibilities of board members and the superintendent”.
· Standard 3d – “Creating conditions district-wide for student and staff success” by “ensuring management of the organization, operations, and resources for an efficient and effective learning environment”.
· Standard 5a, d – “Collaborating with families and community members responding to diverse interests and needs” and “soliciting input from staff and a wide spectrum of the community so that a diverse range of interests and perspectives on issues is considered”.
We believe these actions are unacceptable and increasingly fostered a culture of division and hostility in the BSD community.
Over the course of the last 12 months, the BSD School Board has consistently demonstrated failures of leadership in ways that violate the WSSDA governing standards. In some cases, these failures have been demonstrated by the behavior of individual School Board members. In other cases, those failures were demonstrated by inappropriate statements or actions by one or more School Board members to which others on the Board did not object. Those failures have been most evident in the following areas:
· Actions and behaviors that have created a culture of toxic and punitive accountability that erodes the spirit of collaboration that is essential for shared school district governance
· Hostile behavior in School Board Meetings that furthers feelings of invisibility, fear, anxiety, and harm in district leaders and educators, in particular those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)
· Failure, either individually or as a collective, to acknowledge, examine, and disrupt how their actions and behaviors further norms, rules, practices, and procedures that sustain systems of White supremacy and institutional racism, especially in ways that contributed to the resignation of the superintendent
· Actions taken that willingly and knowingly jeopardized the progress the district has made in a number of crucial areas, in particular equity and racial equity through their interactions with the superintendent, staff, and community members
· Interactions between some School Board members and BSD educators and staff mostly demonstrated in School Board meetings, has eroded any trust or faith that they are acting in collaboration with BSD educators and leaders and for district students, in particular those who identify as BIPOC, to make them feel safe, valued, affirmed, heard, or seen
· Sustained efforts to micromanage district operations which has disempowered and demoralized district leadership, district educators, and district staff, and has damaged the reputation of the district in a way that will make recruitment and hiring of an excellent superintendent problematic and challenging
· Sustained behaviors on the part of some School Board members that have evidenced they lack the wisdom, courage, care, and expertise to choose a superintendent to lead our district in such a way that exemplifies our values of equity, equality, academic excellence, and belonging.
For all of these reasons and in a good faith effort to start to re-establish trust within the district and community, we demand the BSD School Board defers its’ authority to choose a permanent superintendent, as stated in RCW 28A.400.010, to a committee of district leaders, educators, staff, students, parents, and community members. We require the committee be chosen through a selection process led by the acting superintendent, Eva Collins, which will include representatives from the School Board, the Bellevue Educators Association and other district labor groups, parent and community groups, and the acting superintendent’s cabinet and leadership team as follows:
The composition of the committee shall include:
· A diverse representation of 20-30 members from key district stakeholder groups including, but not limited to: district leaders, district staff from multiple departments, district educators, students, parents, community members, and no more than two School Board members
· A diverse representation of membership that achieves parity with the current enrollment demographics for students in the district who identify as BIPOC
· A diverse representation of membership that prioritizes stakeholders representing expertise that speaks to the needs and unique abilities of students with disabilities, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, students who receive Multi Language Learner services, bi- and multi-lingual students, students who identify as LGBTQ+, and students who identify as BIPOC
· Each member of the committee shall have an equally-weighted vote in all decisions concerning the process of identifying and selecting the permanent superintendent
· All decisions concerning the process of identifying the permanent superintendent candidates shall pass with no less than a 50%+ majority
The responsibilities of the committee shall include:
· Providing continuous, equitable, and thorough access and support to community and committee members whose work schedule, language of preference, and/or other circumstances are known to have traditionally posed barriers to equal participation
· Actively designing and building supports for committee members including equitable meeting schedules, translation services, and other necessary supports for broad participation and access
· Developing a job description which will guide the search and hiring process for the permanent superintendent that aligns with the mission, vision, and values of the district, in particular those that reflect the district’s recent work on issues of racial equity
· Working with any external consultants charged with identifying prospective permanent superintendent candidates
· Providing predictable and regular updates to the larger BSD community regarding the process and progress towards choosing the next permanent superintendent
· Choosing the candidate to put forward as the next permanent superintendent of the Bellevue School District
Only through these actions, focused on equitable inclusion and shared decision-making, can we hope to begin repairing the harm caused in the last 18 months by securing a strong viable candidate for Bellevue School District’s next superintendent.
Members of the Equity Advisory Group
SEIU 925 - AISP
The Bellevue Educators of Color Network
SEIU 925 – Nutrition Services
Educators for Justice
The Bellevue Education Association
BSD Asian American Pacific Islander Affinity Group
Parent Alliance for Black Scholars (PABS)
Dear BEA members and Bellevue community,
I am a 5th grade teacher. For most of my professional career I have specialized in science, and I have come to believe that the best way to help kids learn is to create an environment where they love to do it. In my classroom I make space for building and launching rockets, setting things on fire, and exploring topics and questions chosen by the students themselves. By sharing my own love and passion for learning, I hope to inspire the same in others.
Maintaining that passion within our education system can be tough. In my 14 years with the Bellevue School District, I have worked in three different schools with five different principals and four different superintendents. We have adopted multiple new curriculums in literacy, math, science, social studies, and social-emotional skills, as well as numerous new assessment tools. We have seen continually changing standards and ever-changing structures for evaluating our effectiveness at reaching those standards. We have also seen a consistent increase in unique student needs and behaviors that show the way we are doing things is often not meeting those needs.
I grew frustrated with the ways it seemed the system itself was making the job of educators harder than they needed to be, so I turned to the strongest tool I know of to drive change in education – the Union. I have been elected twice as BEA President – both times running unopposed. I am compelled to do this job out of a very deep belief that public education is the most powerful resource we have for creating a more just, equitable, and kind society. Learning to work together with all the individuals we share this space with, treating one another with dignity and respect – that is how we build a better world. As a union leader, I am responsible for championing the needs of our educators in this system. By nurturing, valuing, and inspiring them, we equip them to do the same for our students.
At the start of the COVID pandemic, there was a real sense of hope and opportunity in our district – a chance to create schools as they could be, not just as they have always been. Within days of building closures, we successfully created an entirely new way of experiencing school. Together we learned to use technology, tools, and structures many of us had never imagined. We prioritized connections with students and families, and we saw shared leadership and problem solving across our district like never before. Through the spring and summer teams of educators, administrators, and community members worked to generate new systems and approaches to help us meet the needs of each and every student amid a global health crisis that impacted each of them in different ways.
As the summer and fall progressed, however, I watched that opportunity for innovation begin to falter. There was a strong and growing pressure to recreate the status quo and get back to “normal” – a normal that did not meet the needs of every student. This was presented by some in the community as the only “right way” to move forward, and a common narrative began that criticized any who disagreed as not caring about children and demanded the situation was too urgent to accept any compromise. Comments in public meetings and social media became increasingly polarized and pitted groups against one another - either you supported students, or you supported teachers. As individuals and groups became increasingly defensive of their positions some turned to power tactics to try and force their way. Mistakes and imperfections of individuals were seen as personal failings, and many people were attacked with hurtful and hate-filled criticisms. These characteristics of our culture existed long before COVID, but the pandemic brought them to a whole new level of visibility.
Perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, only one right way, either/or thinking, power hoarding – these are elements of what I have learned to describe as White Supremacy Culture. I understand that when I use that term it is very triggering to some. To many people it feels like an attack on their humanity, an accusation that they themselves are racist. Many feel that by using that term I am shaming them and creating division and exclusion, and to do that as a white woman myself is hypocritical. It has never been my intent to attack, trigger, or divide, but where that has been my impact, I do own it, and I apologize. I commit to finding and using language that feels more inclusive. I commit to creating structures that allow for more understanding, engagement, and communication between people. I want to build a community where we even when we disagree with one another’s ideas, we still value and dignify one another as human beings. I believe that is the kind of culture we want in our schools, our Union, and our community.
On May 19, members of the Bellevue Education Association overwhelmingly endorsed a Collective Commitment to restore and deepen the community we all want and deserve. To support positive change for students, staff, and families, we commit to engaging in open and respectful dialogue with all affected parties. We will be working to establish a community-wide process to identify our shared values and the structures needed to uphold them. We will be working together to create and participate in spaces where student, family, staff, administrator, and educator voices can be heard to establish better understanding and communication with one another.
I invite all our community to join with us in this effort. By modeling the way and leading by example, we will work together to create the schools and community our students deserve.
May 21, 2021
Hello BEA Members,
At our General Membership meeting on Wednesday, May 19, the BEA membership overwhelmingly endorsed a statement of Collective Commitment:
We value our diverse community and care deeply about our students and families. As an Association, we seek collaborative partnerships with community stakeholders that help us further the work of providing the best possible education for all our students. This year has presented challenges for all members of our community and has created unprecedented hardships and obstacles. Our community has experienced hurt and division, and we share a collective responsibility to restore and deepen the community we all want and deserve. To support positive change for students, staff, and families, we commit to engaging in open and respectful dialogue with all affected parties.
To that end, the members of the Bellevue Education Association will:
By modeling the way and leading by example, we will work to create the schools and community our students deserve.
Compromiso Colectivo del BEA:
Nosotros valoramos nuestra comunidad diversa y nos preocupamos profundamente por nuestros estudiantes y familias. Como una Asociación, buscamos asociaciones de colaboración con las partes interesadas de la comunidad que nos ayuden a crecer el trabajo de completar la mejor educación posible para todos nuestros estudiantes. Este año ha presentado problemas para todos los miembros de nuestra comunidad y ha creado dificultades y obstáculos sin precedentes. Nuestra comunidad ha sido herida y dividida, y compartimos la responsabilidad colectiva de restaurar y fortalecer la comunidad que todos merecemos y queremos. Para apoyar un cambio positivo para los estudiantes, el personal y las familias, nos comprometemos a tener un diálogo abierto y respetuoso con todas las partes afectadas. Para obtener estos resultados, los miembros de la Asociación de Educación de Bellevue haremos:
Mientras que modelamos el camino y damos el ejemplo, trabajaremos para crear las escuelas y la comunidad que nuestros estudiantes merecen.
Eve Chan for Classroom Based Student Services Rep on the Exec Board
Elizabeth D'Antonio for Elemenary Rep on the Exec Board
Dear BEA Members,
As the BEA ESA Executive Board representative, it is my privilege to represent and work with the BSD counselors. I am taking this opportunity during National School Counseling Week to ask you to join me in recognizing our BSD counselors in all they do for students, for us and for the community.
Throughout this pandemic, counselors have been responsible for reaching out to students and families unable to access the virtual learning. Counselors were instrumental in making sure Seniors graduated under new and trying circumstances. Before school started in Fall 2020, counselors spent countless hours, often up until the early hours of the morning, to be sure our students had the class schedules they needed. Once school started, the adjustments and modifications to the schedules continued, and the counselors kept on working.
Throughout everything, counselors have served our students as they have struggled with mental health issues. Counselors not only continued helping students with identified and ongoing issues, but they reached out to students who had new concerns brought on by the isolation caused by this pandemic. Counselors have always provided a very personal service to our students and during this time of virtual communication, counselors have succeeded in maintaining that same level of personal connection using a very impersonal platform.
There have been many heroes recognized throughout this pandemic, and our BSD counselors should be counted among them. All BSD educators provide compassion when working with students, but our counselors go the extra mile to not only support students, but their fellow educators and our entire community. Please join me in thanking our many counselors for all they do, and all they have done during this unprecedented situation. Our district owes a huge debt of gratitude to every single one of them.
With deep appreciation on behalf of the BEA Executive Board,
Speech Language Pathologist
ESA BEA Executive Board Representative
The following BEA members have been elected as delegates to the WEA-RA:
The following BEA members have been elected as delegates to the NEA-RA:
Successors to NEA-RA (in the event that elected delegates cannot attend):
Bellevue educators call on the district to pause in-person expansion until vaccination
On Tuesday, members of the Bellevue Education Association (BEA) overwhelmingly voted to pause on the expansion of in-person schooling as proposed by the district until full vaccination for COVID-19 is made available to all educators. All currently operating in-person and virtual services will continue as they have been operating if the district agrees to the expansion pause.
Tonight’s vote means that if the district refuses to announce this pause on Wednesday, Jan. 20, all Bellevue educators not currently providing necessary in-person and mental health services will instead continue providing uninterrupted instruction and job responsibilities through independent asynchronous work through Thursday and Friday, Jan. 21-22. If the district refuses to announce this pause by the end of the workday Friday, Jan. 22, BEA will hold a special general membership meeting Jan. 22 to discuss further collective action.
“We stand by our commitment to providing in-person services to our students in safe ways that support individual needs,” said Allison Snow, Bellevue Education Association President Allison Snow says. “Nobody wants to be back in the classroom more than educators, but only when it’s safe.”
“We have a vaccine on the horizon and we need to use every protection possible to keep our students, staff, and community safe,” Snow says. “It doesn’t make sense to return more students and staff to school buildings without taking every measure we can, which includes offering vaccines to educators.”
Many school districts throughout the state are continuing to delay returning to classrooms for safety reasons.
The Bellevue Education Association represents more than 1,450 educators in the district. Bellevue educators’ vote comes as a bipartisan group of state legislators, school districts, medical experts, and school employees have echoed the call to provide educators with access to COVID vaccination as soon as possible. When paired with the state Labor and Industries requirements, the vaccine can provide the community with the trust and confidence it needs that schools are safe.
Additionally, new variants of the COVID-19 virus are emerging that studies show may be more easily spread and may have greater impacts on children.
The Bellevue Education Association is a professional association and union that serves as an advocate for its members and empowers the individuals it represents. It promotes positive educational working environments, safeguards members' rights, informs and works with the extended community, provides representation on educational issues and acts to obtain the resources necessary to insure excellence in public education.
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