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Sunday, December 3, 2023
Dec. 3, 2023

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Vancouver Public Schools seeks applicants for board seat

Position open following Stoker’s resignation after remarks on social media

By , Columbian Education Reporter

Vancouver Public Schools is seeking applicants for the school board position vacated by Mark Stoker, who resigned after making comments decried as racist on social media.

Stoker resigned Monday after tweeting “Two words: Fire Hoses!” in response to a Seattle sports commentator’s dismay over riots and protests in the city. Demonstrations and protests have occurred across the globe after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by police in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

Police used high-pressure fire hoses against black demonstrators during the 1960s civil rights era. Stoker denied he was suggesting fire hoses should be used on demonstrators.

Stoker’s comments were rebuked by community members, teachers and fellow board members as racist. YWCA Clark County, which is co-hosting a car rally in George Floyd’s memory with NAACP Vancouver on Saturday, condemned the comments as “either racist or extremely insensitive.”

“We cannot tolerate such insensitive behavior from elected officials,” said Jasmine Tolbert, vice president of public policy for the YWCA and vice president of the local NAACP chapter.

School board President Wendy Smith this week said Stoker’s resignation offers an opportunity for the district to appoint a person of color to its board. Nearly 45 percent of the district’s students identify as students of color; every school board member is white.

Applications, which can be found on the district website, are due by 5 p.m. June 19. The Board of Directors will meet June 29 and possibly June 30 to interview candidates. The new director will be informed on one of those days, and will be sworn in on July 14.

The new director’s term will end December 2021, lasting the remainder of Stoker’s term. The director may run for office in the November 2021 election for a full four-year term.

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