February 22, 2017
Dear KLSD Community,
Last Thursday night, we held a meeting open to the entire community in order to share information and facilitate conversation, following the recent incidents of swastikas found on school property.
More than 100 people attended the meeting. Parents, community members who do not have children in our schools, teachers, administrators, students, and local faith based and municipal leaders all joined in the conversation that lasted about two hours.
Understandably, there is great frustration that such hateful behavior occurs in our community. At the same time, there was a great deal of energy focused on how we best move forward. There was also acknowledgement of the complex range of motivations behind such behavior and recognition that the response and the ongoing work must be multi-faceted and extend beyond the schools. Most importantly, there was momentum in the room around wanting to make a positive difference.
As to what’s happening within our schools, here are some examples:
- Tomorrow and Friday, Mrs. Judith Altmann, a Holocaust survivor, will be speaking to all students at John Jay High School.
- Student leaders in the JJHS Campus Congress continue to consider a variety of ways to engage their peers in positively framed activities.
- Both the high school and middle school recently engaged students in poster making that speaks to a respectful school environment.
- Our middle school and elementary schools have multiple, ongoing initiatives focused on creating atmospheres of kindness and respect.
- Meetings are scheduled within the next couple of weeks with leadership from two organizations - the Anti-Defamation League and Facing History and Ourselves (Facing History is a nonprofit international educational and professional development organization that works through curriculum to promote the development of acceptance and understanding – teachers in both our middle and high school already use some of their materials).
On the night of the meeting, among the points I emphasized are the following:
- There are serious school consequences when students are found to have engaged in hateful acts.
- We believe in giving students the opportunity to learn from their actions, to make amends, and to move forward.
- When actions occur in our schools that we believe touch the community as a whole, we will make you aware.
I am enormously appreciative to all who have offered support, who participated in our meeting, and who want to continue working together to maintain a safe, compassionate environment for children. My thanks to all those community leaders who work to support the same children we serve and who have made connections with us during these challenging months. Those connections make us stronger as we move forward and continue this work.
Superintendent of Schools
To see my previous letter on this topic, click here: community letter jan 24 2017.docx
For additional information on the history and impact of the swastika, click here: Swastika ADL.pdf
Dates, Locations, and Times for the remainder of this year's Superintendent's Coffees:
Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - Meadow Pond Elementary - 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Monday, December 12, 2016 - Katonah Elementary - 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Friday, January 27, 2017 - Increase Miller Elementary - 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - John Jay High School - 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Please click here for news from the Superintendent's office.