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Parents want removal of homeless encampment near school

Meany Middle School. (Jason Rantz/KTTH)

Seattle will welcome all middle and high school students back for some in-person instruction on Monday, two weeks after pre-K to fifth-grade students began hybrid schooling.

But some parents of students from Broadview-Thomson PreK-8 School in North Seattle’s Bitter Lake neighborhood are reluctant to send their children back to school because of a nearby homeless encampment.

That encampment is just past two fences behind the school. School officials said that will keep the students safe.

Looking at Miller Playfield on Seattle’s Capitol Hill on Sunday, it is hard to imagine that for months, it was filled with a giant homeless encampment that spilled out onto the street. But late last week, the city of Seattle finished dismantling the encampment and, it stated, moving those who wanted it inside.

City clears homeless encampments near Seattle middle school

“So the homeless built an encampment all around this, you know, beautiful park,” Baisy World said. “I don’t really blame them.”

The school instruction assistant and youth coach was wrapping up a basketball practice. He sympathizes with those who had to live at the encampment. But he said the park has come back alive now that it has been removed just yards away from Meany Middle School.

“It has, it has,” he said. “A lot more kids are out. Like, I’ve been practicing here, sports teams, for the last couple of days.”

Just 8 miles to the northwest, Kristina Bartelson is painting a welcome sign outside Broadview-Thomson K-8 — a sight that’s similarly seen near schools across the city.

“We want to make sure people know we’re expecting them, and we’re welcoming them,” she said.

She said the school district is taking several steps to keep the students safe.

“They’re limiting the size of the classrooms,” Bartelson said. “They’re limiting the hallways each classroom can walk down.”

But this is happening in the shadow of a homeless encampment adjacent to the school, and it won’t be easy to brush aside the concerns of some parents.

“There is no other school that have encampments next to it in the union, let alone the state or the city,” said parent Ocean Greens.

Homeless encampment near North Seattle School will be allowed to remain

Indeed, Greens said he won’t allow his children to come to this school until the encampment is gone.

“The children deserve the path to school to be free and safe,” he said, “so they can walk to school safe.”

So far, just about half of the district’s students are opting for some in-person learning. But they and their parents have until April 23 to change their decision for or against in-person learning.

By Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

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