At a Special Meeting of the Kent School Board on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 the Kent School District Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Rafaela Kayryakoff, teacher, in a 3-1 vote.
Director Daniels was excused from the meeting.
Kayryakoff was a Kent elementary school teacher with a history of online bigotry and alleged verbal abuse, and was pulled from her class following a KUOW investigation into her misconduct.
She allegedly Tweeted out the following statement from her personal account:
Most recently she taught at Panther Lake Elementary School, and was previously a first-grade teacher at Meridian Elementary School, where she was accused of verbally abusing students.
“We the Kent School District want the community to know we deplore and denounce the actions of this employee. We are working hard to make sure if this ever occurs again, and we hope it never does, our response will be swift and immediate ” said Board President Leslie Hamada.
Ms. Kayryakoff was reassigned for the 2019-2020 school year after an investigation in 2018-2019 found no just cause for termination. On Jan. 23, 2020 KUOW published an article regarding the spring 2019 investigation and subsequent reassignment.
“It is important to remember, especially in this particular matter, whether or not we agree with someone’s personal opinions or views, and regardless of our social media guidelines, equity training, and electronic resource policy and procedures in place for staff, we cannot infringe on an employee’s First Amendment rights,” explained Melissa Laramie, Director of Communications and Public Affairs. “The tweets brought to the attention of the principal, and then to human resources, were posted on the staff member’s personal time and personal account, and the investigation did not produce any evidence linking those tweets to her actions in the workplace. We followed policy, procedure and the law.”
Also on Thursday, Jan. 30, Kent Education Association (KEA) teacher’s union published a statement on their Facebook page “No Room for Racism in Our Schools” reaffirming their commitment to equality.
“KEA has been working closely with us throughout this process. I appreciate their commitment to our district’s core values and continued equity work, for remaining focused on our students, and for understanding the difficult and necessary work that must be done to reflect on our explicit and implicit biases. I believe our entire community better understands how these biases impact and influence our learning and working environments,” said Dr. Calvin J. Watts, Superintendent. “In Kent School District we are committed to leading with equity. We will continuously improve our systems while engaging with our families and community. Our focus remains on educating our students so they will be ready to excel in college, careers and in life. Our children deserve nothing less.”