November 20, 2023: Confirming our Commitments and Safeguarding Against Hate

November 20, 2023: Confirming our Commitments and Safeguarding Against Hate

Northshore School District logo in blue



November 20, 2023


Dear Northshore Colleagues: 

As you well know, Northshore is a global community and many of our staff, students, and families have deep and, in some cases, close ties to Israel, the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and the surrounding areas. Many in our Northshore family are deeply and personally affected by the unimaginable loss of innocent lives, the ongoing hostage situation, and increase of related discrimination and violence in our nation. How to best support our students, their families, and you during this time is constantly on my mind. 

Over this past month, our staff and families have shared their personal stories of loss and grief with me and some members of my leadership team. Central to these conversations are questions about how Northshore is educating against and if necessary, prepared to address antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Palestinian discrimination in our schools. 

I feel that it is important to share my response with all staff and families. There isn’t just one approach, it is multifaceted and work that has been underway for a number of years. 

In Northshore, we are resolutely committed to creating safe and respectful school and District environments where each and every student and staff member feels welcomed, safe, and affirmed. I know each of you share this commitment. It is demonstrated in a variety of ways and evident when I visit schools and classrooms. From school-wide cultural celebrations, to lessons that reflect and honor the diversity of our students, to the co-development of classroom norms - you are centering the voices and diverse lived experiences of our students. 

One way we ensure all Northshore community members feel valued and respected and to safeguard our classrooms from hate is to reiterate our values and expectations through District and school-based communications. Additionally, we engage you, our staff, in professional learning focused on racial and educational justice, and have made systemic changes in support of becoming a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable school district. Specifically, over the past seven years together we have:

  • Trained principals and central office leaders in culturally responsive leadership;
  • Engaged staff in training about culturally responsive teaching practices and other racial and educational justice topics;
  • Developed and implemented an Equity Framework to guide the ways in which schools examine their work and increase their use of culturally sustaining practices;
  • Established a districtwide Racial and Educational Justice Committee to provide guidance to Northshore’s leaders and influence policy decisions;
  • Developed and implemented a Racial and Educational Justice Professional Learning plan and modules for staff to support ongoing growth;
  • Embedded equity measures into the Northshore Strategic Plan to hold us accountable to our commitments;
  • Incorporated an equity focus into each school’s Strategic Action Plan; and recently
  • Coordinated, published, and disseminated a Safety and Anti-Discrimination Toolkit –outlining current supports, response protocols, and ensuring educators and families all have access to the same information and expectations. This is a living document and will continue to be updated as new resources become available. 

Another important area of work has been our development of Ethnic Studies curricular units and the P-12 Ethnic Studies Framework. The Ethnic Studies curricular units are now offered through a course in our high schools. Plans to share the Ethnic Studies Framework with educators and leaders are being developed.

Both the Ethnic Studies curricular units and P-12 Ethnic Studies Framework complement the professional learning about racial and educational justice. Through the application of an Ethnic Studies Framework, students come to know and value their intersectional identities and understand that each individual is unique and worthy of being acknowledged for who they are and treated with dignity and respect.

Despite all of these efforts, students will make mistakes and cause each other harm. This is why we have mechanisms to report incidents of hate, harassment, and discrimination. These reporting channels are also outlined in the Safety and Anti-Discrimination Toolkit and communicated broadly. In our response to these types of incidents, our goal is to protect and support the student(s) harmed, educate the school community, and facilitate restoration of relationships and a safe learning environment for all students. 

I want to thank you for your support and unwavering commitment to this body of work. It is essential for our students and the wellbeing of our entire community. 

In other news, the District’s Finance and Budget Office continues to present and gather feedback on the 2024-25 budget development process. It is extremely important to me that the 2024-25 Budget Development process is transparent to our staff, families, students, and broader community. There are several ways to engage and learn more. More information can be found in the District Highlights below. 

Finally, during this season of gratitude and thanks I want to express my sincere appreciation for you. You and your commitment to each and every student is what makes Northshore such a wonderful community. I hope you each have a wonderful break later this week and find time to rejuvenate, laugh, and find joy with loved ones and family. 

In partnership, 

Michael Tolley



Have a story you would like to see shared in the "Highlights from Around the District" section of this message and on our website? Submit using this form.

2024-25 Budget Development Updates, Informational and Engagement Opportunities 

  • Board Study Session: Last Monday, November 13, there was a 2024-25 Budget Development Board Study Session. The study session is archived on our Board website. Staff are encouraged to watch it. The presentation includes a list of potential cost-saving adjustments or reduction ideas. This is a potential cost-savings list, gathered after reviewing the results of an Initiative Mapping process as well as talking with our School Board, staff, and leadership team members. The list represents the equivalent of $36 million, more reductions than needed. Part of the Superintendent’s responsibility is to provide the School Board with options to address our $26 million deficit. The School Board’s guidance, feedback from staff, our families, and students will help us refine the list and balance our budget for next year. 
  • Optional School-Based Budget Presentations: School-based staff are invited to attend optional budget development presentations. These presentations will conclude prior to the December break. Your school’s meeting date and time will be shared by your principal. Thank you to the many staff that have already attended. 
  • There are upcoming public opportunities to learn more about the budget development process and provide feedback in November and early December. These engagement meetings will focus on budget development and our new Deputy Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer, JoLynn Berge, will be leading the discussion. 

No RSVP is required. My full engagement calendar including past and future meetings with families, students, and staff can be found on the Superintendent webpage

Finally, you can learn more about the 2024-25 Budget development process on the District webpage including a timeline for decisions. As information becomes available, the webpage will be updated. 

Maywood Hills Gathers for Family Reading Series

Two adults read aloud and display the pictures in the books to seated students and families


Maywood Hills completed a 6-week family series supported by a grant from Prime Team Family Reading through Humanities Washington. Each week, families came to school in the evening to share a meal and listen to read-alouds with activities and discussion designed to foster reading in the home. Bothell High School Honors Society volunteers supported. A special thanks goes out to King County Library System for our partnership with the Bothell Library.

Canyon Creek Students Deck the Tree in State Capitol Rotunda

A photo collage of Canyon Creek students' designed ornaments for the holiday tree at the State Capitol Rotunda

Students in Mrs. Deer’s 3rd-grade class at Canyon Creek are contributing to the decorations of the state capitol’s holiday tree this year. The First Lady of Washington Trudi Inslee selected the theme of sports, so students in Mrs. Deer’s class chose to design ornaments that depict a sport played in a country whose cultural heritage is represented by students in their class and across the state. These ornaments all feature a window as part of their design, giving viewers a window into different cultures and experiences. Great job to all the students who contributed!


Thank You to our Bloodworks Northwest Donors

Two staff pose in front of the Bloodworks Northwest mobile vehicle at the Admin Center

Our thanks to the staff and community members who came to the Admin Center to donate blood to Bloodworks Northwest on Monday, Nov. 20. Mark your calendars for the next chance to donate on March 4, 2024. For more information, contact Christy Frank ( 


Winter Weather Reminders

As the weather turns, we want to remind our community about how and when decisions are made that affect our schools. The decision to close or delay schools in response to snow and hazardous road conditions is made by the Superintendent as early as possible, typically by 5:30 a.m. Learn more about Northshore's process and communication during inclement weather.


Native American Heritage Month

In honor of what is nationally recognized as Native Heritage Month during the month of November, we are sharing resources to recognize and celebrate Indigenous heritage. Racial and Educational Justice’s website also includes a helpful list of culturally responsive strategies and activity ideas to utilize in the classroom for this month and beyond. Thank you to our staff for their work to honor our Indigenous communities.



Key Dates

Nov. 21 - Elementary Conferences - Elementaries ONLY Dismiss Early - See dismissal times

Nov. 22 - Half-Day for ALL Schools - See dismissal times

Nov. 23 - Thanksgiving Day - No School

Nov. 24 - Native American Heritage Day - No School

Nov. 27 - School Board Meeting, 7 p.m.

Nov. 29 - Wednesday Early Release

Dec. 6 - Wednesday Early Release

Dec. 11 - School Board Meeting, 4 p.m.

Dec. 13 - Wednesday Early Release

Dec. 18, 2023 - Jan. 1, 2024 - Winter Break - No School


Additional Religious and Cultural Observances

Dec. 8 - *Hanukkah (Ends Dec. 15)

Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve

Dec. 25 - Christmas Day

Dec. 26 - Kwanzaa (Ends Jan. 1)


*Begins at sundown of previous day/ends at sundown



Northshore School District is enriched by the many experiences and perspectives each individual member brings to our District and community. Therefore, our District prohibits discrimination based on age, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, or the presence of any sensory, cognitive, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.


Civil Rights and ADA Coordinator for Staff: 

Jerred Kelly

3330 Monte Villa Parkway

Bothell, WA 98021-8972

425-408-7622 or 7604  


Title IX Coordinator: 

Jerred Kelly

3330 Monte Villa Parkway

Bothell, WA 98021-8972

425-408-7622 or 7604 


The Northshore School District shall provide equal educational opportunity and treatment for all students in all aspects of the District’s academic, activities, or employment programs without discrimination. In addition, the District provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups in its programs and activities.

Section 504 and ADA Coordinator for Students: 

Rick Ferrell

Director of Student Services

3330 Monte Villa Parkway

Bothell, WA 98021-8972


Any Northshore School District staff and community member has the right to raise concerns or make a complaint regarding discrimination under this policy without fear of retaliation. The above-listed employees have been designated to handle questions and complaints of alleged unlawful discrimination.



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