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Democrats look to allow noncitizens to serve on school boards – Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington 2021-02-22 18:22:00 –

Olympia — Rama Chik was her presence in the Shoreline School District as a dedicated employee and active parent when a school board vacancy offered the opportunity to take her service to the next level last fall. It made me feel.

The mother of two school-age boys made an appointment in November, minutes after being sworn in when the phone rang. District officials wanted to know if Syrian natives were citizens.

“I said no,” she said. She is a legal permanent resident.

It required her to post, as state law states that only citizens can hold elected positions.

“I’m from Syria, where I’m really silent. When I came here, I smelled and started breathing freedom. You have a voice,” she said. “I started participating in education. My focus was on silent families. This is community service. Except for voting, there is no difference between citizens and legitimate residents, but I I understand. “

Her story stimulates efforts by democratic state senators to change the law so that legal permanent residents can serve on the school board, so only citizens can retain elected positions in the state. It has stripped away the central belief of American democracy.

The law, created by Senator Jesse Salomon of D-Shoreline, will expand the number of people eligible to become board members of the school board.

Under current law, anyone wishing to run for a school board seat must be a US citizen, a resident of Washington, and a registered voter in the school district. You must also be at least 18 years old and live in the district.

Senate Bill 5340 extends the eligibility criteria to include legal permanent residents, also known as “green card” holders, who have been granted the right to live in the United States indefinitely. And the bill will ease the requirement to be a registered voter while preserving age and residence requirements.

Undocumented migrants and domestic migrants with temporary visas will continue to be ineligible. Also, convicted serious offenders whose voting rights have not been restored are not eligible.

“The school board aims to make the school better for the children. I think someone who has been involved in serving the local school in the area should be able to do the job. “Salomon said.

“I don’t understand why there are fewer (qualified) legal permanent residents than legal citizens,” he said. “I think we should give them a chance. I don’t have a broader ideological approach to this.”

The Republican Party did not accept the bill when it was submitted to the Senate Early Learning and Kindergarten to High School Board of Education for a hearing on February 1.

“Non-US citizens under this bill may be members of the school board, wow,” said Senator Brad Hawkins of R-East Wenatchee.

Chiku testified at a hearing. So did Meghan Jernigan and Sara Betnell of the Shoreline Board of Education. Representatives of the Washington Education Society, a union of state-wide teachers, and One America, a state-wide immigration and refugee advocacy group, also expressed support.

“Many of our students come from immigrant families. Some are documented and some are not. It is our role to educate everyone in the community,” said the Chairman of the Board. Journeyan said in an interview last week.

There seems to be a severance when Chiku’s talent and devoted people recognized by the community as helping the district connect with students from all ethnic communities are unable to attend the board, she said. ..

Democrats, who make up the majority of the school board, approved the bill in a party vote on February 10. Currently in the rules.

If it leaves the Senate, it should receive a warm welcome from Democrats in the House of Representatives who see it as another means for immigrants to further contribute to the structure of the community, especially the school.

“We definitely welcome the conversation,” said D-Macartio, Democratic Corcus Rep. Lillian Ortiz Self.

“Let’s be creative about how we can involve their voices,” she said. “They are legally here. They pay taxes. Their children are in our school. They often have no say in our education system. It is a part. ”

Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.


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