A Statement from the Garfield Heights Board of Education

Statement from the Board of Education

June 9, 2020

On behalf of the Garfield Heights City Schools, the Board of Education is compelled to share with the community our heartbrokenness and sadness over the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Desmond Franklin, and the countless others whose lives have been taken due to injustice. As members of the Board of Education, we are working collectively to dismantle institutional racism through our unwavering commitment to racial equity in our own school district and society. We assure the community that as elected officials, we will continue to serve the community of Garfield Heights and we are committed to creating a school culture that embraces and implements racial equity practices, thereby holding ourselves accountable to advance equity in our district.

On Sunday, June 7th, our Superintendent, along with educators, staff, and members of the Board attended a city wide event focused on racial healing in our community.  During this event, the voices of our citizens were heard.  In listening to these voices , it was evident that the recent tragic events created the desire for  a heightened level of  accountability for what the Garfield Heights City Schools will do to keep each student safe, secure, and free from harm’s way.

The GHCS has worked diligently over the years to take the necessary steps toward advancing equity in our district. Our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Consultant, has worked to provide District-wide support and training for employees, as well as support in reviewing & creating equitable policies and practices.  More recently, we have introduced the new role of Family and Civic Engagement Coordinator, whose focus is to ensure that all families in our district are supported by bridging gaps in communication between the district and parents and ensuring that parents are supported by removing barriers to accessing needed resources. While these roles are evolving, they demonstrate our efforts in moving things forward.

In addition, there are other initiatives that have been implemented  to elevate our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion( D.E.I.) work such as Project Mosaic, a platform created to engage students as diversity champions, and our District-wide D.E.I. week, which focuses on various facets of diversity, equity, and inclusion, including improving cross-cultural relations, inclusion for students with different learning abilities, and mental health. More importantly, we are working to create a revised strategic plan for the future of our District, which will include D.E.I. as one of the four pillars.  The plan will consist of a clearly defined equity statement to serve as the compass for our District’s equity framework.  

We acknowledge that there are racial disparities within our district, and we are working to better understand the experiences of racial groups and identify strategies to address the existing disparities in our district. We also recognize that as we move forward in this work, it will require us as members of the Board to remain vigilant in examining our own personal journeys and  implicit biases that would have an impact on our practices, policies, and protocols.  We acknowledge that this is required to effectively initiate and create structural changes in our district that challenge the status quo and support equity for each student. At the same time, we condemn violence and will not permit the communications channels of our District to be the arena for hateful or hurtful speech. We all can elevate, and we must lead by example.

As we are continuing on this journey, we ask for your support and we encourage each member of the Garfield Heights Community to join us during this time of unrest as an opportunity to talk with your families, particularly our children, about embedded injustice and how we can purposefully, peacefully and compassionately take a stand against racism.  These conversations are important to begin the change in community and in our world.

Listed below are some resources below that can help you in your discussion with your families.  With a need for any additional support, feel free to call the Board of Education at any time.

Sincerely,

The Garfield Heights City Schools

Board of Education

How to talk to your children about protests and racism

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/01/health/protests-racism-talk-to-children-wellness/index.html

George Floyd.  Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/05/31/how-talk-kids-racism-racial-violence-police-brutality/5288065002/

Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice (books, websites, articles):

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s0lCA3FlulVhK6DFE2d3uYCipc6ApY8Gn2rMwm6fYqw/edit?usp=sharing

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