Mark Stoker had spent 13 years serving on the VPS Board of Directors
VANCOUVER — Long-time member of the Vancouver Public Schools’ Board of Directors, Mark Stoker, resigned Monday after he was criticized for a comment he made over the weekend on Twitter.
Stoker has served the Vancouver School District as a board member for the past 13 years. Until late last year, he served as board president until the board members elected Wendy Smith president following the November election.
“I hereby resign from the Vancouver schools board of directors immediately,’’ Stoker wrote in a letter to Dr. Steven Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools. “It has been my honor and privilege to have served the students and families of Vancouver Public Schools these past thirteen years. Together, we have accomplished many great things and overcome many significant challenges. I am proud of the work.’’
Stoker made a comment on social media, which has since been removed, in response to a tweet by a Seattle sports radio host Dave “Softy” Mahler, who was stating his frustration at protestors damaging property in Seattle this weekend. Protests have taken place all over the country in response to anger by citizens over the death of George Floyd while he was being taken into custody by police officers in Minneapolis, Minn. on May 25.
According to a report by The Columbian Newspaper, Stoker wrote, “Two words. Fire Hoses!’’ He later apologized for the comment.
The comment led to harsh criticism by Smith, his fellow board member, who responded with her own statement Sunday on Facebook.
“First, I want to make it absolutely clear that Mark Stoker was speaking as an individual and his comments (via Twitter or any other platform) should in no way be construed as representing the views of the district or its Board,’’ Smith wrote. “As a private citizen, public school educator, school board director, and human being, I unequivocally condemn his remarks and the actions they encouraged. I recognize the hurt inflicted by such words and sentiments and refuse to be associated with them, no matter how remotely. It sickened me to see his comment, and I am dumbfounded that anyone could fail to see it as anything other than racist.’’
Smith encouraged voters to hold Stoker accountable when he was up for re-election in November 2021. However, Stoker had already informed others he was not going to seek another term on the board after his current term expired.
“As I have indicated a number of times, this was to be my last term, expiring in December 2021,’’ Stoker wrote in his letter of resignation. “By resigning now instead, the district has an opportunity to appoint a new director that will have eighteen months to serve. That new director should represent the rich culture and diversity our district enjoys.
“The board should appoint a director that reflects the demographics of the district in order to bring new ideas and representation not currently existing on the board,’’ Stoker added. “That new director will have an opportunity to make an impact on the vision and policies of the district before his or her term expires. Their work should be honored.’’
Superintendent Webb issued a statement Monday before Stoker’s resignation was made public.
“I want to be clear about my position as superintendent of schools,’’ Webb stated. “Racism in any form is wholly inconsistent with our mission, values and beliefs. It cannot be tolerated. Vancouver Public Schools is working very hard as an organization to promote equity and justice for our students, families, employees and community.
“As an adoptive father of a multiracial family, I know this: The feelings of pain and hurt felt by many people in our community are real,’’ Webb said. “We must endeavor together to work toward creating a more just and humane world. The children of our school district and community deserve nothing less.
“Mr. Stoker is an elected official with a 13-year history of service to our district,’’ Webb added. “It is his responsibility to respond to concerns about the comments he made on his personal social media account.’’