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Protest shouts down PPS board; Smith to retire in 2017

COURTESY PHOTO: KOIN 6 NEWS - Parents and community members carried signs like this during a Tuesday  evening protest at the Portland Public Schools board meeting. About 100 people marched and protested at the board meeting.About 100 people protested loudly during Tuesday evening’s Portland Public School board meeting, calling on district officials to take action on tainted water and dangerous chemicals found in school buildings.

Don’t Shoot Portland organized the protest during the June 21 board meeting at Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy for Young Women. The group includes parents and community members, who say it’s time to take action.

Group members marched to the board meeting after a rally. Protesters continued their demonstration with signs and chanting during the board meeting. At one point the board called for a recess due to the disruptions.

The protest and board meeting came hours after PPS Superintendent Carole Smith announced her plan to retire by June 2017. Smith told district officials that she took the superintendent’s position in 2007 with the intention of staying for 10 years.

CAROLE SMITH“When I started this job in October of 2007, the average tenure of an urban superintendent was and still is 2.5 years,” Smith wrote in a message posted on the district website. “I knew that in order to make meaningful change, I set my goal at 10 years so that I could fully commit myself to the long-term needs of the district, students and staff. I am entering my 10th year as superintendent and today I have affirmed for the board my intention to retire.”

“I have loved being your superintendent. It is an honor and a pleasure to serve our students, families and staff.”



Smith has come under fire in the past few weeks after news reports that district officials knew about elevated levels of lead in school building drinking water four years ago and was slow to take action. Frustrated and angry parents shouted during two community meetings that Smith and other administrators should resign or be dismissed because of the slow response.

In the wake of high levels of lead discovered in school drinking water and radon found in school buildings, parents are saying district officials have violated their children’s civil right to education. Organizers of Tuesday’s march say parents should be filing civil rights complaints.

Gov. Kate Brown said Tuesday it’s possible that starting this fall, all Oregon schools would have to come up with a plan for health and safety assessments in school buildings across the state.

KOIN 6 News, Pamplin Media Group news partner, contributed to this report.