King Day assembly on Snoqualmie district agenda
Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Joel Aune will tell the community tonight how Mount Si High School plans to move forward...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Snoqualmie Valley School District Superintendent Joel Aune will tell the community tonight how Mount Si High School plans to move forward after a contentious Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly.
The district may draw a crowd of more than 100 people during the 7:30 p.m. board meeting, Aune said, based on community reaction so far and the turnout at the last board meeting.
The issue stems from the Jan. 17 assembly, where the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, a controversial pastor from Redmond's Antioch Bible Church, was invited to speak about King's struggle to promote racial equality and about his own struggles to embrace racial acceptance and tolerance.
Hutcherson, who is known for speaking out against homosexuality and organizing local and national rallies against gay marriage, shared his personal account of growing up amid racial prejudice. Before the assembly began, Hutcherson was booed by one teacher. At the end of the event, another teacher stood up and questioned Hutcherson on his views regarding gays and lesbians.
The school subsequently issued an apology to Hutcherson over how he was treated during the assembly.
Since then, the district has received hundreds of e-mails from community members; more than 100 people showed up at a School Board meeting two weeks ago, Aune said.
"We've had a strong reaction from the community," he said. "There have been different ideas and opinions about the assembly, and what transpired, and different opinions and ideas about the selection of the speaker."
On Wednesday, Mount Si High School sent home a letter with students outlining how it plans to move forward. The school will hold staff workshops and other activities to help bring the teachers together, Mount Si Principal Randy Taylor said.
"We want to take the divisiveness that exists within the staff and work toward having staff respect their differences," Taylor said.
The high school also is setting up a task force to review the protocol for inviting guest speakers to assemblies, Taylor said. If the school opts to invite someone who is controversial, it may want to inform students, staff and parents early, so they can opt out of coming to the assembly, Taylor said.
As far as disciplinary actions for the teachers involved, the district has taken "appropriate actions," Aune said. Both teachers are still employed at the school, and Aune declined to give further information citing personnel confidentiality.
Rachel Tuinstra: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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