In a Facebook post calling for state intervention into “chronic underfunding” and safety issues in Seattle Public Schools, School Board member Eden Mack announced she was resigning Thursday, about a year shy of completing her first term.
Mack posted the announcement, effective immediately, while the School Board met for a work session on the district budget. She said she could “no longer participate in the ongoing systemic dysfunction that is not serving the students and families of Seattle,” and that she didn’t feel she could work to address the district’s challenges by remaining in her seat.
Her resignation comes at a period of significant tumult and turnover for Seattle Public Schools and districts around the country. The emotional and financial toll of the coronavirus looms over every decision, Superintendent Denise Juneau announced she would resign, and a wave of teacher misconduct allegations at the district came to light in 2020, prompting a reckoning with the district’s ability to audit itself.
“When I ran for school board, I had hopes that I could help improve things and I’ve always tried to really listen and operate with grace and respect,” Mack wrote. “We’ve made some progress with a few issues but I have ultimately come to realize that the incremental change and Band-Aids are wholly insufficient. No one person is to blame, and so many of us have tried so hard to effect positive change and do right by Seattle’s kids.”
Chandra Hampson, the board’s president, said the board will discuss Mack’s departure at a meeting next week. She declined to provide further comment.
With the next regularly scheduled election for her seat roughly nine months away, the Board will now have to find both a replacement for Mack and Juneau, who announced her resignation in December and will step down in June. School Board policy requires member vacancies to be filled within 90 days.
Mack, who ran for the board in 2017, has long been an advocate for increased funding for public schools. She is the co-founder of a grassroots school funding advocacy organization, Washington’s Paramount Duty.
The tipping point for her, she said, was the pandemic and the financial uncertainty it will bring.
“And now, sacrificing countless hours away from my own school age kids to continue to try to patch a broken system has become untenable for me. I can’t in good conscience take another vote on a budget that does not even provide for full-time nurses in every school, mental health supports, curriculum and materials that are needed, or provides reasonable class sizes,” Mack said her post.
“Despite all of our best efforts, we have systemic failings in keeping students safe while in our care, overcrowded classes and a structural budget deficit. Our volunteer school board, though well meaning with shared values, are simply not equipped to oversee an underfunded $1 billion budget and hire/manage a Superintendent to do this impossible job,” she added.
When asked why she decided to resign instead of waiting until the conclusion of her term, Mack said: “The problems won’t be fixed by another election or a new superintendent. Those changes are merely a distraction from the root cause of the problems which is chronic underfunding.”
Mack said she doesn’t have any immediate plans after resignation. She is the second School Board director in recent memory to resign. In July 2019, former School Board member Betty Patu’s resignation triggered an appointment process that led to the selection of Brandon Hersey, whose term finishes this November.