Statement on Protests and Equity

Dear CHSD 218 Family –

We find our communities and our country in a time of great turmoil right now. For almost three months we have been in the grips of a worldwide pandemic that closed our schools and has shut down our economy. 40 million Americans are unemployed. And, once again, after the death of George Floyd (and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and on and on), we see a country wrestling with issues of prejudice and racial discrimination. People are marching in the streets across the United States to protest the seemingly endless cycle of racism, violence, and bigotry.

Even though school is out of session, we understand the vital role that schools play in our communities. We think that it is important that we let our Voice join the chorus of so many others that are condemning the racial discrimination that continues to be perpetuated against our African American citizens.
 
We want to say with emphasis: Black Lives Matter.
 
Here in CHSD 218, we believe that systemic racism is real. It finds its way into every nook and cranny of our society. And that systemic racism fans the flames of injustice. It weakens us as a society and it does irreparable harm to our people. In a school system – where part of our mission is to mold young minds and prepare our students to be positive, contributing members of society – systemic racism can be especially damaging. That is one of the reasons the CHSD Board of Education created an Equity Statement a few years ago (which can be found on our website) that states very directly our position. We believe that excellence for all can only be achieved by equity for all. We ask that all CHSD 218 staff members “with deliberate effort, continue to examine and eliminate institutional beliefs, policies, practices, and teaching that perpetuate racial disparities in achievement.” We have asked our staff to focus on “identifying and removing barriers in our current policies, procedures, systems, or practices that limit opportunities for our students.”
 
None of this is easy and we admittedly have more work to do in this area. We all do. Discrimination and racism have sadly been a part of the fabric of our society since the inception of our country. This statement letter alone will elicit angry phone calls and emails from members of our community that will be racist in nature. Recently we have had some inappropriate, racist social media posts from current and former students that would make you cringe. These attitudes are ugly and hurtful. And they are real. We will continue to work with our staff and our students to promote compassion, empathy, and respect for all people regardless of their race, creed, or gender identification.
 
Though school is currently out of session, we know there are still ways we can help right now. We want to be part of the solution. If your sons or daughters – our students – need help coping with the explosive events of the last two weeks – whether they are angry or scared – please reach out to our support services. We have people who can talk to them and help them sort through these difficult times. If we can’t help, hopefully we can point you in the direction of someone who can. Families can use the request form below to contact one of our professionals should any of our students need to speak to a trusted adult.
 
Student Request for Contact: https://forms.gle/7Fhs7iVWodSkVyTN9 
 
While we will NEVER be okay with those who commit violence or vandalism or looting, we will ALWAYS stand with the peaceful, non-violent protesters that want a better version of our society. We stand up for our African American students and staff members. We stand up for all of our students who are discriminated against. We stand up for your children. We stand up for our staff members and the citizens of our communities who want and demand a better world.
 
Sincerely,
 
Dr. Ty Harting – Superintendent CHSD 218
Dr. Erik Briseno – Principal of Eisenhower High School
Mr. Joe Fowler – Principal of Delta/Summit Learning Center
Dr. Mike Jacobson – Principal of Richards High School
Dr. Greg Walder – Principal of Shepard High School
Dr. Josh Barron – Asst. Superintendent CHSD 218
Dr. Sue Feeney – Asst. Superintendent CHSD 218
Dr. Michael Ryan – Asst. Superintendent CHSD 218
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