Dear Monroe Community,
I am writing to you today in response to a recent incident of racial harassment and assault of a Black student at Monroe High School. We are devastated that hatred and intolerance has manifested itself in our school district. We recognize that this incident causes our underrepresented and traditionally marginalized students and families to be fearful, angry, and to question their own sense of belonging in our school community. My heart goes out to these students and families and I commit that, as a system, we will continue to learn and grow together.
Our community is unique in that we have one comprehensive high school that serves the majority of our students in the Monroe School District. Because of this, when events take place at Monroe High School, they impact our entire community. There are many events that are cause for celebration; we celebrate our graduates each year, we rally at sporting events together, we attend drama and musical performances. These events are highlight moments for our students, their families, and our community as a whole. On the other hand, acts of racism, hate or discrimination in our schools have an equally devastating effect on our entire community.
Principal Wille has formally addressed the Monroe High School community about this incident. In his letter, he denounces racism, acts of hate and violence, as well as harassment, intimidation, and bullying. You can read his letter here. It is important to know that Principal Wille's statements are grounded in district policies as well as state and federal law. Furthermore, the Monroe School District will not tolerate any of the aforementioned behaviors. That said, it is apparent that our efforts to date have not extinguished these situations and the event that occurred this week serves as a stark reminder of our duty and moral obligation to refocus our efforts, revise our strategies, and recommit ourselves to ensuring all of our students, families, and neighbors are welcome, safe, and feel like they belong to our school community.
Schools have been central gathering places and community centers throughout the history of our nation. It is important for all to feel invited, welcomed, and safe to actively participate in the events that take place at our schools. Our legally aligned policy 3210 identifies protection from discrimination:
The Monroe School District will provide equal educational opportunity and treatment for all students in all aspects of the academic and activities program without discrimination based on race, religion, creed, color, national origin, age, honorably-discharged veteran or military status, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, marital status, the presence of any sensory, mental or physical disability, or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability.
These words are meaningless unless the reality of our environment is reflective of anti-discrimination. The incident this week demonstrates that we must continue to come together to learn, grow, and commit ourselves as a community to do better. We will do our part as a school system. We will support our educators with tools to engage in conversations about tolerance, accepting differences, and cultural competency in order to prepare our students to thrive in a diverse and global society. We will support our administrators to uphold our policies and effectively deal with violations of our commitment to a safe and orderly school environment. We will continue to improve our system until every student, parent, staff member and our greater community feels like they belong.
I recognize that, by themselves, these acknowledgments are just words. They become meaningful when coupled with authentic relationships and intentional actions. Such actions will be forthcoming and opportunities to engage will be broadly communicated. You will have an invitation to participate, to grow together, and to help us strengthen our community.
Very Truly,Dr. Justin Blasko