Washington State Police estimated more than 6,000 people visited the Washington State capital on Jan. 16, including parents, teachers, students and union reps from Lake Washington School District. Photo courtesy of Washington Education Association

LW teachers and students rally in Olympia for education; Rossi meets with some constituents, misunderstanding arises with others

Representatives from the Lake Washington Education Association had a bit of a run-in — or lack thereof — with Sen. Dino Rossi on Monday in Olympia.

The LWEA union represents staff in the Lake Washington School District, one of the largest districts in the state.

Union reps were among the thousands of parents, students, teachers and administrators at the Washington state capital building on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It was a busy day for politicians across the state.

Rossi reserved a hearing room, which was packed with constituents from the Northshore and Snoqualmie districts, among others, for 45 minutes of question-and-answer on several of the largest education-centered issues. Rep. Rodger Goodman and Rep. Larry Springer met with parents from Northshore and Lake Washington schools and spent time with Lake Washington union representatives, who presented a student Bill of Rights poster.

“It was nice to see that the group that went down was not only teachers, but parents and parents of teachers, and children down there,” Sarah Cooper, LWEA Special Services Representative, said. “There were PTA members and school boards — a large contingent of people who believe.”

The LWEA then tried to meet with Rossi, which is where the day went sideways.

“I was getting in an elevator, already a few minutes late for another meeting. I get in there and someone yelled at me,” Rossi said. “Two or three of them, ‘Senator Rossi!’ I didn’t have my key card out, and you have to have that to push the button. The door started shutting and the elevator went down, and I couldn’t identify who it was.”

The LWEA responded on Twitter, saying, “@DinoRossiWa told twenty education advocates you’re 15 minutes late, guess what? You are 40 years late w/funding.”

The union also posted a message on Facebook, including, “Hope your lunch was important, obviously you don’t have the best interest of your constituents and the children of Lake Washington in mind.”

The union later admitted on Twitter it didn’t have an appointment to speak with Rossi.

Union reps later dropped a student Bill of Rights poster off at Rossi’s office, but Rossi said the union still hasn’t tried to schedule anything with him.

“If you want to have a dialog, come in and make an appointment,” he said. “That’s not the right way to lobby.”

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