This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.
Dear District 219 School Board,
Thank you for your time and commitment to educating all of our students in District 219. Skokie United consists of local resident volunteers united for the purpose of welcoming ALL in our community and promoting racial equity in all of our local institutions: schools, libraries, village government, and park districts. In this unprecedented year, many of our families have been impacted by job loss, food insecurity, isolation, and systemic racism’s effects have rippled throughout our community and many others.
We are saddened by the fact that our Niles North and Niles West principals were reprimanded and verbally attacked for supporting our families of color during this time. Some residents have accused these principals of having a political agenda.
We ask that you, like these principals, show support for ALL of our families. THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL ISSUE. IT IS A MORAL ISSUE. Quite simply, it is the right thing to do.
We exhort that the board denounce racist comments and hate speech by students or parents or anyone in any form, whether verbal or posted on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, etc.
We request that the board explicitly spell out support for students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Our schools are our children’s second home. Racial equity should be the norm but is not yet and we must work towards this. Let us make this a known, stated goal for how we treat our students. We request that students’ input be sought more actively through full participation of student affinity groups already established. Student voice is an integral and necessary voice in bringing together our community.
We request that the board actively work towards ending the school to prison pipeline that results in premature court referrals for behavior infractions that can be resolved with restorative justice measures.
In our district those who are referred to court are DISPROPORTIONATELY students of color. This is racist treatment of our students and we want to find new avenues to help these students succeed. Court referral should be a last resort, and not one chosen for infractions that can be dealt with in our schools. Past inquiries from parents and community members have been met with a lack of data retrieval. We demand that the numbers of students of color who have been referred to the court system be released.
We request that the board implement restorative justice measures and have schools work actively with social emotional learning specialists, social workers, counselors, and others to help our students stay on track.
Finally, we ask that every member of the Board, administration, teachers, and all staff complete anti-racist anti-implicit bias trianing for personal and professional impact. It starts with each of us. We anticipate a timeline to meet this request.
We are grateful for your time. We ask for your commitment to work with us to establish and sustain a community of TRUE RACIAL EQUITY. We look forward to a speedy response to the following:
- denounce hate speech and racist comments on social media that targets our BIPOC students and families;
- state support for our BIPOC students and families;
- sustain student affinity equity groups so that they are inclusive of all students;
- share the Board’s stance on school to prison pipeline, the incorporation of restorative justice practices, and the data of students that have been referred to the court system;
- and share a timeline and commitment for all Board members, administration, teachers, and staff to participate in ongoing equity, anti-racist, anti-implicit bias training for our community.
It is long overdue, but we can do this, together.
With best regards from your neighbors,
Natasha LaVallias, Alice Pappas,
Paola Ruocco, Angela Sangha-Gadsden
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November 6, 2020 at 05:10AM