Morrison wrote an email to school board president Jerrall Haynes on June 27 expressing his desire to resign, Haynes says. Despite multiple efforts to contact Morrison in the ensuing days, Haynes says he hasn't heard from Morrison since.
Last night, the school board notified district staff that the board intended to move forward with a process to fill the vacant position.
"The resignation surprised me, and I'm pretty sure it surprised every one of the board members," Haynes tells the Inlander.
Though Haynes still hasn't spoken with Morrison since the email, Haynes says he received word today that Morrison is doing OK personally. The Inlander repeatedly got a busy signal when calling Morrison's phone on Thursday.
The news of Morrison's resignation comes a month after a petition began circulating among parents demanding Morrison's resignation because of comments he made to the Inlander in February 2019, in which Morrison — as the interim director of safety and security for the district — defended a school resource officer who used his knee to pin down a Ferris High School student's neck.
Last month, the Inlander obtained an email from Morrison sent to Shawn Audie, the since-ousted officer, expressing support for Audie despite community outrage over photos of Audie pinning down the Black student.
"The decisions we ask our CRO's [campus resource officers] to make in a fraction of a second are always going to be under public scrutiny — especially when a photograph, video or single narrative is used irresponsibly," Morrison wrote in January 2019. "I am a life-long resident of Spokane. Our public is wiser than a Facebook post."
The comments drew condemnation from a number of parents. The incident at Ferris gained renewed attention in the wake of national protests, which were sparked by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin using the same maneuver on George Floyd, killing him. Audie, before he was hired by Spokane Public Schools as a resource officer, was accused of using excessive force several times as a Spokane County Sheriff's Deputy.
Morrison's resignation also comes as Spokane Public Schools Superintendent Shelley Redinger prepares to leave for a job leading Richland School District.
Haynes says the school board discussed the petition against Morrison as a group more than a week before Morrison decided to resign. Haynes says Morrison was "very remorseful and seemed to want to work to overcome any preconceived notions about him." He didn't get any indication that Morrison planned to resign.
Haynes says he has no idea why Morrison chose to resign.
"His wording was that it was for 'personal reasons,' and that was it," Haynes says. "Outside of that, I have no idea. I reached out to him and left a voicemail. I, and the rest of the board, hope everything is going well."
Morrison was employed by Spokane Public Schools for years before running for the school board. He managed bond projects for the school district, and then became the spokesperson and communications director until 2018. When the school district needed an interim director of safety and security, he took the role temporarily.
As he ran for the school board seat against candidate Erin Georgen, Morrison argued his institutional knowledge would prove beneficial on the board. He won the election with 56 percent of the vote.
The school board began discussing how to replace Morrison's seat last night. Haynes says they'll soon hold interviews and select a candidate, but there is no set timeline yet. That will be discussed Wednesday during an open session.
"Legally, we have to have the position filled no later than the 25th of September," Haynes says. "In a perfect world, we would fill it much sooner than that."
"We're grateful for his service both as an employee and a board member," Haynes says.