Posted on February 14, 2022

School Board Defends Segregated Meeting

Jason Rantz, KTTH, February 13, 2022

A Seattle-area school board is defending its decision to offer racially segregated meetings to help select a new superintendent. The board president claims non-white parents feel more comfortable “surrounded by other people similar to them.” The defense is condescending and racist.

The Issaquah School Board is holding several meetings with parents as they pick a superintendent to replace the retiring Ron Thiele. One of the meetings, however, was meant for white parents to self-select out of attendance. It was labeled, “Meeting for Parents/Guardians of Color and Parents/Guardians with Students of Color.” As parents showed up to testify at last Thursday’s school board meeting, board president Anne Moore defended the decision to hold a separate — but presumably equal — meeting.

Moore claimed that some “historically marginalized families” in Issaquah feel “uncomfortable” in meetings. To mitigate their supposed discomfort, she said a meeting “surrounded by other people similar to them, makes it easier.” Yet she also claims it isn’t an example of racial segregation, a claim that conflicts with the very reason she gives for holding a meeting for “parents of color.”


Parents and communities members were not pleased with the racially segregated meeting. One after the other, they took the podium or spoke remotely, to express their outrage.


Despite the criticism, the board wasn’t retreating. In fact, board president Moore defended and justified the racially segregated meeting.


“It was really an intent from the board to be able to hear from our historically marginalized families,” Moore declared. “We wanted to be able to have an environment where they could share freely and honestly and feel vulnerable. And so we’ve heard from those families before, and we understand that sometimes the environment isn’t comfortable. So having them surrounded by other people similar to them, makes it easier.”

Moore did not indicate why “marginalized families,” in a city where the median home price is $1,187,495, would feel uncomfortable around white people. The school district itself is near evenly split with white students (49.6%) and non-white students (50.4%).


The board did, indeed, change the language of the meeting. It made it worse.

The meeting is still intended to be for “parents of color.” The new language isn’t more inclusive; it merely defends their decision to hold meetings for people on the basis of skin color, leaning into a message that seems intended to guilt white families into self-selecting out. It now reads:

The first of the four meetings will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 15. As a School Board we understand that historically marginalized families may not share honestly or vulnerably about their experiences in our district if they are not surrounded by people that look like them or have a similar lived experience. In this meeting we hope to ensure all families have the space to connect, feel supported, and share authentically. Parents of all races are welcome to attend this meeting that intends to create a safe space for parents and guardians of color and parents and guardians with students of color who racially identify with historically marginalized races.


The language is almost certainly added to avoid being sued for racial discrimination. White parents cannot be shut out of a public meeting by the school board on the basis of their race. {snip}