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UPDATED | Kundu announces resignation from Marysville School Board
MARYSVILLE - In an e-mail sent to The Marysville Globe at 4:25 p.m. July 12, slightly more than two hours before the first Marysville School District Board of Directors meeting held since his return from Washington, D.C., Board member Michael Kundu confirmed his resignation from the Board effective the same day.
The Marysville School Board had voted 4-0 on June 21 for Kundu to resign from the board.
In his e-mail, Kundu cited a number of his contributions to the Marysville and Tulalip communities during his seven years on the Board, among them calling for regular joint meetings between the Tribal and School boards, persuading Don Hatch Jr. to return for his final years of service on the School Board, advocating allowing Tribal students to wear traditional ceremonial regalia during their graduations, and even speaking on behalf of a dedicated Tribal seat on the School Board, the latter of which he noted has not been accomplished yet.
Kundu followed this list by challenging the remaining Board members to install a permanent Tribal representative position on the Board, to prove their commitment to improving the district's relationship with the community. He also spoke of the need to "aggressively pursue the best available science" to address issues such as the academic achievement gap.
Kundu did not attend the July 12 Board meeting, where the remaining Board members voted unanimously to accept his resignation, but several representatives of community groups commented during the meeting's hearing of business of visitors. Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. supported the request of Tribal Board member and former School Board member Don Hatch Jr., who asked to be part of the interview team for Kundu's replacement candidates.
"The actions you've taken have been a tremendous part of our healing," Hatch told the Board. "If there's anything I can do in a leadership role to help with staff or students, I'll stand up and be accountable."
"I want to thank you for standing up and doing the right thing," Sheldon told the Board. "That took courage. This was a test, and not an easy one, but you passed it."
Sheldon and Hatch's defenses of Board President Sherri Crenshaw were echoed by Snohomish County NAACP President Janice Greene. Kundu had previously criticized Crenshaw for circulating his controversial e-mails to members of the public, but Sheldon echoed Hatch's observation that Kundu's e-mail had included a request for it to be circulated. Greene explained that she'd obtained Kundu's e-mail through a public disclosure request, and asserted that public correspondence such as school district e-mails should not have the expectation of confidentiality.
"This is not a zero-sum game, where doing for one child means that you can't do for another," Greene told the Board. "I expect you to do the job you were entrusted to do, by taking care of all the children."
Just as Sheldon had pledged to continue attending School Board meetings, to contribute to the Board's problem-solving processes, so too did Greene offer to participate in the district's decision-making. Sheldon and Greene likewise agreed that the district is faced with the daunting task of providing for its students' needs with increasingly limited resources, and both described the weeks since the circulation of Kundu's e-mail as a learning experience that's helped the community come together.
Monikka Mann, a mother of three students in the school district, had spoken at previous Board meetings regarding Kundu, and warned fellow attendees of the July 12 Board meeting that they shouldn't see this matter as settled.
"The fact that he resigned doesn't take away the damage that he's done, with the attitude that he's flaunted in the press and public," Mann said. "I'm still concerned about the 57 percent of our students that have a five-year graduation rate. I'm still concerned that these poisonous ideas still exist, but are hidden underground."
Former School Board member Ron Young concluded the public remarks by attacking Kundu's record, noting that less than 30 percent of 10th-graders in the district in the 2009-2010 school year met minimum standards in math and science, and the district as a whole is below the state averages in all areas of the WASL.
"The resignation of Michael Kundu is a good start in closing the achievement gap," Young said.