Edmonds School Board votes to remove police officer from Lynnwood High School

Lynnwood High School (Image courtesy of the Edmonds School District)

Lynnwood High School Tuesday night joined the list of Edmonds School District high schools that will no longer have a police officer.

Seven weeks ago, the Edmonds School Board voted to remove police officers from Edmonds-Woodway, Meadowdale and Mountlake Terrace high schools but postponed a vote on Lynnwood, pending a safety review.

At its Tuesday, Aug. 11 business meeting, the board voted unanimously to cancel the contract with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which provided an officer at Lynnwood High School.

The board’s decision reflected community concerns following the death of George Floyd — an unarmed Black man who died at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer in May. Floyd’s death renewed discussions both locally and nationally about whether having police officers in schools was in the best interest of all students, particularly students of color. Since, the board has been under pressure from many in the community to remove law enforcement officers – officially known as school resource officers or SROs — from schools.

“We’ve heard really compelling discussion on why police embedded in our schools is harmful to many of our students,” said Board President Deborah Kilgore.

The SRO program was set up through interlocal agreements between the district and local law enforcement agencies, which defined the SRO’s role at the school. 

The board voted unanimously in June to cut ties with the Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace police departments, which supplied SROs to three of the schools. However, it decided to postpone a decision regarding Lynnwood High School’s SRO pending development of a safety plan for the school in the event of an on-campus emergency. The concern came from long response times — more than 30 minutes — due to the campus’ location in unincorporated Snohomish County. As a result, the school has consistently had an officer on campus longer than other district high schools, even when the program was halted during the recession in 2010.

Recently, district leaders held a community forum to allow community members to provide feedback on the program. Though some have spoken in support of the SRO program, the district has received a larger number of people — both white people and people of color — asking that the board eliminate the program. Prior to the Aug. 11 vote, the board read dozens of submitted comments, many from people asking once again that the board remove the SRO at Lynwood High School.

In her submitted comment read by Director Gary Noble, Edmonds-Woodway High School alumna Olivia Morris said having SROs on campus is harmful for students of color and only reinforces the school-to-prison pipeline, which disproportionately targets students of color and pushes them out of schools and into the juvenile/criminal justice system.

“As a nation, we have seen so many recent examples of police misconduct and brutality,” she wrote. “The system of policing at its current form is, at its best, outdated and our children in the Edmonds School District deserve the best possible education, especially during these times.”

Tiffany Muskrat, in a comment read by Director Nancy Katims, said the district could better serve students by investing in more mental health services and social supports.

“Let our vulnerable populations know we support them” she wrote. “Establish inclusive practices and demonstrate our support by separating education from law enforcement. Let kids be kids, stop testing them as probable criminals.”

In place of the SRO program, district staff have proposed reinstating the liaison officer model program. Under the program, officers from local agencies would be assigned high schools in their jurisdiction that they would monitor and respond to in the event of an emergency, if they are available. In the event the primary liaison is unavailable, a back-up liaison will take that officer’s place.

Instead of walking the campus halls, the liaison officer would periodically check in on the campus while patrolling and work with school administrators to establish a safety plan for the campus, said Assistant Superintendent Greg Schwab.

“They would be a resource to schools for those non-emergencies that oftentimes do require some police officer intervention,” he said. “Custody disputes, parenting plans, court orders that need to be enforced, drug and alcohol concerns and also make themselves available for class presentations as needed.”

The district previously used the model in 2010-18 when it was forced to put a hold on the SRO program due to budget cuts. Unlike the SRO program, the liaison program is free.

Schwab said he plans to bring the idea before the sheriff’s office this week to see if they would be willing to partner with the distinct for the liaison program for Lynnwood High School. The board will continue the discussion at its next meeting on Aug. 25.

–By Cody Sexton

25 Replies to “Edmonds School Board votes to remove police officer from Lynnwood High School”

  1. Died at the hands of a White police officer with enough fentanyl to put down a horse.
    He also claimed to not be able to breathe as soon as police arrived.
    There is a lot more to this story than the narrative the mainstream media is trying to tell us.
    I would suggest to anyone watch the leaked video that was sent to the Daily Mail

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  2. Disappointed the Board has taken this step to remove police officer from school. A police officer in the school not only provides safety for the kids but gives them a chance to witness first hand that police are NOT the enemy. Believe we are taking a big step backwards on safety for our kids.

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  3. Remember these School Board Members were elected. Raise your hand if voted for them and disrespect and hate our local town Police.

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  4. The Edmonds School Board wants to be just like the big kids in the school yard i.e. Seattle, Chicago, L.A. etc. It is more ‘Group Think’ than it is rational thought. It reminds me of the 70’s when the big name universities like Cal, Harvard, UW etc. would have massive protests on this or that and then the small schools (wanting to be like the big schools) would follow suit and protest whatever was on the menu that day.

    Same thing today, maybe even the same people.

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  5. All it takes is a student coming to school with a gun and killing multiple students and faculty to see how idiotic of a decision that was. SMH. I decided this year will be the perfect year for me to keep my kids at home and school them here.

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    1. Don’t worry. Maybe the school board will kick in a few bucks to increase the size of the sign “GUN FREE ZONE”.

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  6. This is unfortunate. Many of the kids at the high schools like and respect the officers who had been on campus, and it gave them an extra measure of emotional security to see them walking around. The Meadowdale HS officer would often come to sporting events in his off hours, just to support the school and the community he worked in. He also offered a comforting presence during the numerous lock-downs that took place throughout the school year (prior to the Covid closure, of course). I hope the school district re-thinks this unfortunate decision.

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  7. “The board’s decision reflected community concerns”

    Really??!!?

    How did they know that without ever really talking or listening to the community? This should be rewritten to:

    “The board based their decision on what they assumed the community needed, while actively avoiding massive calls from community voices decrying their decision.”

    Here’s one of the voices that they ignored at their “community forum”

    “Speaking in favor of the SRO program, Edmonds resident Molly Reeves, who has two children in the district, said having police in schools could help bridge the gap between communities of color and law enforcement.

    “In my opinion, if our goal is to promote positive police interaction within our communities and foster a healthy relationship with law enforcement, I think that the schools are a good place to start,” she said.”

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  8. Very bad decision. And I will remember when voting for levies and voting for the school board come around.

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  9. A very bad decision by a group of inept people. I’ll bet the parents of all the children that died or were injured in school at the hands of a shooter would pay any amount of money to have had a police officer on duty in their schools on those fateful days. What are you thinking?????

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  10. There is nothing unreasonable about wanting our schools populated with nurturing educators and not with armed soldiers. We are not living in a war zone, and schools are not battlefields. I am an Edmonds resident with children in these schools and support this decision. The other commenters here may disagree, but their name calling and and outrage falls far short from a civil discourse that could change hearts and minds. It also is conspicuously lacking in any well defined, actionable and fact supported goals and plans.

    Furthermore, all of this vitriol in the comments section is really disturbing. I see it in almost every news story on this site. The commenters are certainly entitled to their opinions, but they go way beyond that and demonize people working hard trying to make a more peaceful, less violent society where kids are not treated as criminals. Why? These people you are attacking are your neighbors, and they are acting with the best of intentions. Penalizing them by voting against future funding does nothing but exacerbate the problems they are trying to address. The schools need community support, not to be cut off from funding in order to prove some sort of ego driven point.

    All of this name calling and over simplification of inherently complex issues is destroying our communities. My Edmonds News, please don’t allow your comments section to continue to be a part of the problem.

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    1. Hello. High Schoolers who bring guns and weapons to school are criminals. Those who deal drugs at school are criminals. Those who sexually assault at schools are criminals. That is not oversimplification or name calling. This is not a complex issue. Time to get real. Elected officers who have lost their common sense are destroying communities. Thank God for conduits like MEN.

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      1. Once again, Allen, you are the voice of truth. I have lost count of the number of panicked phone calls I have gotten from my kids because ONCE AGAIN, their school is in lock-down. Police are needed on school campuses. One of the reasons that schools no longer have lockers is because kids brought drugs and weapons to schools, and stashed them where? In their lockers. So administrators thought that if there were no lockers, there would be no more illegal items brought to school. WRONG! Now they carry their illegal items in their giant school bags all day long. Ask any high school kid how easy it is to get pot and any other kind of drug on campus, during the school day. Law enforcement professionals on campus help reduce the occurrence of this.

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    2. “My Edmonds News, please don’t allow your comments section to continue to be a part of the problem.”

      Translation: Keith wants any opinion that differs from his eliminated.

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    3. Keith – I agree, “There is nothing unreasonable about wanting our schools populated with nurturing educators and not with armed soldiers.” Our schools had qualified, trained individuals who were likely just as skilled at winning the hearts and minds of the students, observing and identifying potential threats as they were hitting a target.

      Sir, I do believe we are in a war zone and schools are a battlefield – it’s not the war zone and battlefield some of my fellow service members experienced – but it is in fact an ideological war zone where the family is attacked, differences lead to division instead of discussion, and education has given way to indoctrination – on both sides.

      I will continue to advocate that us Veterans and police roam the halls of our schools – should they open again – because those are soft targets…and as a parent, I want someone skilled in observing potential threats and stopping those threats – even if a few students are “uncomfortable.” Their discomfort is certainly less costly than burying our young.

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      1. Michael, You were very kind in your comment. Everything you say is true and reality. We should all be advocates for our Veterans and Police. I definitely support SRO’s in our schools, and will definitely vote against the school board that voted to remove these officers. The previous commenter called our SRO’s “armed soldiers”, then goes on to admonish anyone with an opinion different from his own. He is not only wrong, but uninformed.

        Thank you MEN for printing different opinions. I look forward to reading each and every one of them, even if I do not agree.

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    4. Keith, you must be thinking of another country. We do not and have not had armed soldiers in our schools. We do/did have an armed local community police officer in each school.

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  11. When people around the country, this same move is happening in hundreds of school districts, look at removing SRO’s and ask “how is this making things better?” they miss the point. The reason this is being done is to remove possible positive interactions between the police and the public not to make things better.

    If it was really done to address “fear by children of color” then it would be used as a teaching moment. At the very least there would be a movement to place cops of color in the schools. That could “make things better” just getting rid of them makes the cops more of an unknown, which only makes them more scary, which is the whole point.

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  12. Cops wouldn’t be needed at schools if there were an even amount of male teachers at school, and dads at home. If our schools are a warzone of any kind, they are a war against masculinity being carried out by an institution that doesn’t understand it.

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  13. I agree with Matt. The problem is the family. We need good fathers And mothers living In the home. There was a reason the police were in the schools To start with. Has that reason changed? The police are not the problem the family is. I am shocked how fast Edmonds has changed to be so liberal. How about replacing the police with Christians? I am thinking that the state agencies no longer work for us or the Mayor…we work for them. King county moved to Edmonds?

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  14. It started 40 years ago with the movement of people from California through Oregon to Seattle. In the last 20 years it expanded to Snohomish and Pierce counties. In the last 10 years you can notice it in local governments (Edmonds, MLT, Snohomish, Monroe, etc) pushing density over single family dwellings in an attempt to urbanize the suburbs.

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  15. I am encouraged by the school board making the decision to remove full time police officers from the schools. I hope they will be replaced with programs that serve the needs of the community such as nurses, social workers and school psychologists. Thank you to the Edmonds School board for making the hard decisions in favor of a society that cares for all people.

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