Southeast Seattle Education Coalition

Appointment process for School Board Dist 7 seat

At the 15 May 2019 Seattle School Board meeting Director Betty Patu announced she will be stepping down from her school board seat. The process to fill the seat representing District 7, Southeast Seattle, involves an appointment by the remaining school board directors. Below is a letter signed by 38 individuals representing 35 organizations demanding a transparent process.

Timeline thus far:

  • 15 May 2019 — Director Patu announces resignation, her last day will be 26 June 2019
  • 17 May 2019, updated 22 May and 4 June 2019– Seattle Times article states “More information on the appointment process, including the applications, will be on the district website in about a week, Harris said.”
  • 24 May 2019 — Email (below) sent by SE Seattle representatives asking for a timeline and information on the appointment process, in a reply email President Harris said the information would be released in a week.
  • 31 May, 1, 4, 7 June 2019 — Reminder emails sent to President Harris asking about a timeline and process. No updates provided to the 4 or 7 June email.

As the community most impacted by this appointment, having a fair and open democratic process is essential. Parents and community members deserve to see a timeline and understand how the appointment will be made and to give input on who will be representing District 7. The appointment cannot be made behind closed doors.

Please write to the school board asking for a timeline and the process to be published: [email protected]

24 May 2019

Dear School Board President Harris:

District 7 families and the community-based organizations serving them are highly motivated to provide input into the process of replacing Director Patu. We hope you can provide assurances there will be an open and transparent process in appointing a new school board director to fill the vacancy. We look forward to participating in the process.

We would like to suggest the following actions take place to ensure there is a fair and transparent process:

  • Publicly share and widely communicate a timeline for the appointment process, especially in outreach efforts connected to Southeast Seattle and in ethnic media.

  • The qualifications and criteria used to select the new school board director will be publicly published in a timely manner.

  • At least one public forum be held to interview candidates. Residents from District 7, educators working in schools in District 7, and non-profit and community partners operating in District 7 should have priority in asking questions and giving input for the board to consider. If written input is allowed, input from District 7’s residents, educators, and nonprofit partners should be weighted and given higher consideration than the public at large. This is to recognize that the person filling the seat will represent District 7.

  • A proactive engagement process with Black, Indigenous, People of Color living in District 7 to ensure they are able to participate in the process.

  • Interpretation and translated materials will be made available during the selection process.

  • Live streams and video recordings of the forums are made publicly available.

We would appreciate hearing back from you on how we can work with you to ensure these steps are taken. Please contact Erin Okuno, Executive Director, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition, [email protected] or 425-243-7079 to coordinate next steps. We thank Director Betty Patu for her extensive years of service to our community and schools.


Melanie Arena
Vice President, Kimball PTSA

Susan Balbas
Executive Director, Na’ah Illahee Fund

David Beard
Policy & Advocacy Director, School’s Out Washington

Nimco Bulale
SESEC Board Member & Education Program Manager, OneAmerica

Phyllis Campano
President, Seattle Education Association

Gregory Davis
Managing Strategist, Rainier Beach Action Coalition

Janice Deguchi
Chair, Asian Pacific Directors Coalition & Executive Director, Community for Youth

Regina Elmi
Executive Director, Somali Parent Education Board

Carolyn Feng
President, Beacon Hill PTA

Sandy Gunder
SESEC Board Member

Matt Halvorson
Rise Up For Students & District 7 Parent

James Hong
Executive Director, Vietnamese Friendship Association

Michael Itti
Executive Director, Chinese Information Service Center (CISC)

Brianna Jackson
Executive Director, Launch

Lexi Keeler
SESEC Board Chair & District 7 Parent

Peggy Kwok
Youth Development Program Supervisor, Chinese Information Service Center (CISC)

O’Hara Jiménez
PTA co-President, Graham Hill Elementary

Lee Lambert
Executive Director, City Year

Julie Marl
Executive Director, ZENO Math

Munira Mohamed
Executive Director, East African Community Services

Behnosh Najafi
Co-President, Friends of Hawthorne Elementary

Dieu Nguyen
PTSA President, Asa Mercer International

Roxana Norouzi
Deputy Director, OneAmerica

Mark Okazaki
Executive Director, Neighborhood House

Erin Okuno
Executive Director, Southeast Seattle Education Coalition

Estela Ortega
Executive Director, El Centro de la Raza

Mira Posner
South Shore, PTSA co-president

Ryan Quigtar
SESEC Board Member & Executive Director, Renton Innovation Zone Partnership

Shira Rosen
Interim Executive Director, Communities in Schools-Seattle

Heidi Schillinger
Founder & Principal, Equity Matters

Rich Stolz
Executive Director, OneAmerica

Katharine Strange
Secretary, Van Asselt Elementary PTA & member, Integrated Schools Seattle

Emily Tomita
SESEC Board Member & Youth Program Manager, Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA)

Mia Tuan
Dean, College of Education — University of Washington

Vivian van Gelder
Families and Communities for Equity in Schools (FACES)

Julia Warth
Director of Policy and Research, League of Education Voters

Elizabeth Whitford
CEO, School’s Out Washington

Laura Wright
Co-Executive Director, WA-BLOC

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