News

DeVleming uncontested for School Board

By Mary L. Grady

Attorney, John DeVleming, 55, is campaigning for the Mercer Island School District Board of Directors, Pos. 2, the seat being vacated by Carrie George.

Longtime Islanders, DeVleming and his wife, Emily Hansen, have three children, two of whom have graduated from Mercer Island High School. Daughter Elizabeth graduated in June and will attend Carnegie Mellon University in the fall. Joseph, a member of the class of 2003, is attending the University of Washington. William will be a sophomore this fall at the high school.

William actually found out that his father intended to run while reading the Reporter last week. ``He thought it was a good idea,'' his father said.

DeVleming is hoping to run a low key and relatively inexpensive campaign. But if he gains an opponent, that may change, he said. He is working now on his Web site with a designer.

DeVleming who grew up in Pullman, Wash., graduated from Yale University in 1972 with a degree in political science. He joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in Ethiopia and later worked in Bangladesh for the World Health Organization. He returned to the U.S. and earned a law degree in 1978, at the University of Idaho where he met his wife. Later, he was hired by the U.S. State Department to be a political officer in the Foreign Service in Paris, Sri Lanka and New Delhi, with assignments in Washington, D.C., and Istanbul.

After returning to the Seattle area, DeVleming went to work for Ogden Murphy Wallace, PLLC, working on toxic waste and environmental issues. In 1991, with three children under 6, he stayed home for a time. He now works as a consulting attorney. He has been home, he said, shepherding the kids and doing most of the cooking.

Emily Hansen is an attorney in private practice in Seattle.

Beyond being a lawyer, DeVleming recently was the manager for the successful campaign of King County Superior Court Judge Chris Washington, and has been very involved in club volleyball for Mercer Island girls. He served for a time on the board of directors for the Northwest Treatment Centers, a drug and alcohol treatment and counseling program. He admits to playing golf and attempting to craft homemade wine.

While well aware of most of the programs and recent issues facing the school district, DeVleming is certain he needs to learn more before stating a position. However, several matters concern him.

He is committed to trying to gain more space for sports on the Island, and believes that the PEAK Project, despite the complications that it presents in getting approvals and constructed, will be worth it.

The PEAK Project is a proposal by the Boys & Girls Club to build gyms and a teen center on school district land near the high school.

There is one less gym now (the one torn down with the community center) than there were 30 years ago, he said.

He is especially committed he said, to ensuring that girls have their chance to play.

He remembers that girls he knew in high school, obviously superior athletes, had only badminton, track and maybe cheerleading as a way to participate in sports. He feels girls need sports to boost their self-esteem and involve themselves with each other and the community.

``I want girls to think: `Hey, I'm an athlete too,''' he said.

He is certain he can add to the conversation about the somewhat bumpy implementation of the new Chicago math curriculum at the high school. He and his wife decided to pull one child out of a high school math class for a course at Privett Academy.

He backs the idea that students should get credit for what they learn through the honors classes at high school. The best way to do that is to have them designated as Advanced Placement (AP) classes.

``The honors classes at the high school are excellent,'' he said, ``but without that AP designation, students won't get the recognition or credit they deserve.''

``AP and honors are not everything,'' he emphasizes, however.

DeVleming is not sold on the BRIDGES2 Program at the high school, believing that there are many ways that adults can be brought into kids' lives.

He found it troubling that the School Board did not know before a vote at a public meeting some key details about the expanded advisory program. He wants to know more about changes in the high school schedule and what the effect of those changes.

There have to be other ways to help nurture and guide kids and connect them with adults, he said.

DeVleming uses his experience with club volleyball as a model.

``It is a program that has coaches and parents that gives girls -- no matter what their level --an opportunity to develop those talents either for the sport or beyond.''

The focus (of a school board) should be on marshaling resources in a lot of different ways to meet the needs of kids, he said.

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