Jaylen Fryberg was the student identified as the gunman in the school shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School just north of Seattle on October 24.
He shot several students before taking his own life.
It emerged Friday that the school district of Marysville had been identified as being in pressing need of mental health promotion only two weeks before the shooting.
Three school districts, including Marysville, had been identified as recipients of a $10 million federal grant called ProjectAWARE. The grant was awarded “based on need and their readiness to benefit from the grant.”
The press release for the grant decision, dated October 6, said that the chosen districts would “work to create a safe school environment that provides mental health services to students in need, addresses violence prevention, and establishes safe school policies.”
The Seattle Times reported that “administrators were working on plans for the money just as news came about the shooting Friday morning.”
The Seattle Times also reported that Jerry Jenkins, who supervises Marysville and several other districts, said,
“The tragedy that happened in Marysville could have happened anywhere. We used to have a much greater social safety net. Marysville has been willing to sit down and work with mental health providers to get mental health services to kids who need it, even though that is not a school’s traditional role.”
Recent Twitter posts from Fryberg painted a picture of a troubled teen, distressed over a recent break-up.
In a January meeting with Washington state representatives, Marysville school officials discussed the importance of a curriculum that is inclusive of the large Native American population in the area. The North County-Outlook reported that Tulalip Tribes vice-chair Deborah Parker said,
“We are not just trying to get native students through school, but through school with some pride and balance. We try and instill our cultural values and they go to school and it changes them, so how do we teach our students and feel like they’re still native?”
Marysville-Pilchuck High School was also in focus in 2008 for a cyber-bullying scandal.
The Everett Herald reported that Marysville students were using a gossip site to “spread rumors about other kids’ supposed sexual experiences, abortions, eating disorders, diseases and drug use”, as well as listing sexual acts other students had participated in and questioning other students’ sexual orientations.
The principal at the time, Tracy Suchan Toothaker, said “We have a couple of examples of young people who are really, really hurt, as I can totally understand. And as a parent and an educator you cry.”