Rantz: Seattle-King County Public Health gives needles to homeless addicts at K-8 school
Public Health — Seattle & King County has been distributing needles to homeless addicts at the growing encampment attached to Broadview Thomson K-8 in North Seattle. They’re doing it on and next to school property.
The encampment continues to grow because the Seattle School Board refuses to sweep it. Board president Chandra Hampson and her activist colleagues believe sweeps are inhumane. They’d rather the homeless sleep outside in tents, surrounded by human waste, without access to electricity, bathrooms, safety, or addiction service. That’s Seattle compassion.
Word has spread and the homeless have flocked to the sprawling park just feet from the school’s playground on the west side of the campus. There are no rules at this encampment, and addicts have set up tents to live.
Nearby residents and parents of kids at the school continue to witness open drug use. That caught the attention of Public Health. Instead of help treat the addiction, they give addicts needles in full view of kids.
Seattle Public Health hands out needles on school property
Public Health distributed needles to at least six homeless drug users on school property last Tuesday. The North Outreach Referral and Exchange program (NORE) parked their needle exchange van right next to the school property and connected with the homeless on the district property, Public Health confirmed.
“We normally park in the parking lot that is not close to the school but is off of Linden Ave between 130th and 132nd,” a spokesperson for Public Health tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
This time, however, the lot they use was full. They visit every Tuesday. And while they’re a needle exchange program, users are not required to exchange used needles for clean ones. Where are the used needles discarded? The county, city, and school board do not know, nor do they track.
These services, unfortunately, do not lead to treatment. It’s precisely why Public Health doesn’t proactively provide any data to suggest their strategy treats addiction. Instead, they push this as a harm reduction model, which helps prevent blood-borne illnesses, but is not, in fact, safe. It is never safe to inject illicit drugs.
Seattle Public Schools supports the visit
Though nearby students could view the needle exchanges in progress — and even participate, as Public Health does not turn minor addicts away — Seattle Public Schools is supportive.
This time, Public Health did not notify the school or district of their plans. However, “[in] conversations with the school district in the past they have been supportive of the services we provide,” the spokesperson explained.
In a statement to KOMO, Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Tim Robinson indicated the district’s support: “We are certainly in support of the needles and sharps and things like that being dealt with and disposed of properly.”
Given that addicts use those needles in full view of K-8 students without the district caring, it makes sense that they would give Public Health a pass.
Problems at encampment plague school and community
The problems continue to worsen at the encampment.
Parents and residents witness fights break out with regularity. There are weapons at the encampment, in addition to drug use.
Recently, Broadview Thomson K-8 was put on lockdown when a security specialist at the school reported a gun at the encampment. It turned out to be a pellet gun.