Skyview student Melanie Gabriel is seeking a 504 Plan to attend the high school and her supporters have staged protests in recent days
On Tuesday (Sept. 7), Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark granted an injunction prohibiting disruptive protests near school campuses. The injunction requires that “protests, rallies, gatherings on or near school premises that disrupt educational services, immediately cease and desist and not be allowed to convene on or within a one-mile radius of any Vancouver School District building or grounds.” The injunction is effective as long as state-issued mask mandates are in effect.
“Our district understands and supports free speech and the right for people to be involved in peaceful protests,” said Superintendent Jeff Snell. “However, our first priority is to ensure student and staff safety and an educational environment free of disruption. This responsibility prompted us to present our concerns to the court.”
The injunction comes after community groups protested outside of Skyview High School about the state mask mandate for schools on Sept. 2 and 3. Protests also were scheduled for Sept. 7, 8 and 9.
On Fri., Sept. 3, Skyview went into lockdown when protesters left the public sidewalk and came onto the campus. As a precaution, the Skyview incident triggered lockdowns at neighboring Alki Middle School and Chinook Elementary School.
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Washington state has mandated that all students and staff members wear masks or other appropriate facial coverings in schools and on school buses. This state requirement was a legally binding decision by the governor and cannot be overturned by local districts.
Skyview student seeking 504 plan
The recent protests at Skyview High School have been in support of student Melanie Gabriel, who is seeking a 504 Plan with the Vancouver School District that will allow her to attend Skyview without wearing a mask.
Gabriel, who turned 14 on Wednesday (Sept. 8), announced on her Facebook page that she and her representatives had a meeting Wednesday with district officials in an attempt to establish a 504 Plan, which is described as a blueprint or plan for how the school will provide support and remove barriers for a student with a disability.
“I’m on the right side of history and I will continue to pray for those who are not,’’ Gabriel stated in a post Wednesday morning before her meeting.
In a separate post Tuesday, Gabriel wrote: “I need the sidewalks at Skyview High School packed with people tomorrow. I am walking through fire right now and I’m facing horrible mistreatment because I know in the end it will pay off. In the end I will be heard and a statement will be made and I will gain back rights for everyone!! I cannot do this on my own. I need an army behind me and standing with me!! If you can’t come, invite someone that you think might be able to make it. I need everyone to remain calm the entire time you are there and refrain from engaging with students. I need your signs to have specific messages not related to masks. This is so far beyond the mask now!!’’
In another Facebook post, apparently after her meeting with district officials Wednesday, Gabriel thanked a supporter by writing, “I will never forget this, and someday I will tell my children about the pandemic and how all our parents and grandparents sat back and watched all of their rights be stripped from them one by one and did nothing, they were compliant! It will be the children who take our country back, I have lost faith in most adults!! My meeting went really today. I’m don’t want to jinx myself so I’m going to wait until I have it all in writing, reviewed and signed!!’’
Gabriel recently shared a letter to the editor that was published by Clark County Today. She urged voters to not support “union-backed candidates’’ for Vancouver School Board positions.
Some Information in this report was provided by the Vancouver School District.