For months, parents have begged Seattle Public School officials to move a homeless encampment that’s been disrupting the Broadview-Thomson K-8 school day.
The school district’s answer? Call the city. There is nothing we can do.
Parents have sent photos of needles and tents along the path students once walked to get to class. And of rats and weapons, apparent drug deals and prostitution.
District officials maintain they have made the school campus “as safe as possible” and say they don’t have the expertise or resources to clear district property. That is absurd and, frankly, false.
“No sweeps” has been the district’s mantra ever since school board President Chandra Hampson and Operations Committee Chair Zachary DeWolf “demanded” the city offer services to campers back in March. But most parents aren’t asking for a sweep.
They just want campers to move farther from the building, where they had been before moving onto district property last summer. “Just the minimum,” said parent Ocean Greens, whose fourth and sixth graders go to Broadview-Thomson. “For the kids, so they can be safe going to school.”
This reasonable request isn’t coming from a bunch of NIMBYS. A high proportion of Broadview-Thomson students come from low-income households. Students of color make up more than half the student body, which includes immigrants from all over the globe. The district could have fixed the problem before these students came back to campus in April. District officials have chosen not to, under the guise of compassion. A statement forwarded by district spokesman Tim Robinson says school leaders are working for a “more durable solution” than simply moving the camp off district property.
Where is the compassion for the students and staff who have to live with the effects of their inaction? Walking to school along busy Greenwood Avenue is just the start.
Security concerns arising from the encampment’s proximity have forced students to shelter in place as recently as last Thursday. Parents say two camp residents have died from overdose. Greens said his children saw one of the bodies in the street.
When asked about the disturbances, Robinson articulated the district’s stunning dismissiveness, saying, “We have 104 schools and on any given day a student could see any given thing happening outside their school.”
But all of this? Every day? Is that how little the district values its students? Or does its ho-hum response to this inexcusable situation reflect how little it values the kids at this particular school?