Juneteenth: A Day of Reflection

Juneteenth: A Day of Reflection
Image: Pieces from a Scrabble game spelling out the word "Equity"Below is a letter from Dr. Gundersen, Superintendent of Schools, regarding the district's stance on racism and our equity and inclusivity work.

Dear Pascack Valley Regional High School District Community,

Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, we have experienced a civil rights movement sweep our nation.  When you strip off the political jabs and pundit commentary, this movement leaves us with a simple message: Racism is wrong and needs to be eliminated.  

That bears repeating: Racism is wrong and needs to be eliminated.

Racism, whether a person actively engages or passively allows it to occur, is wrong.  Judging, criticizing, or persecuting someone based on their race is an attempt to remove their human dignity.  Everyone in the world is entitled to be treated with dignity.  When systems and organizations idly stand by as racism takes place in their own backyard, they are quietly allowing that dignity to be taken from their very own.

The Pascack Valley Regional High School District stands against racism and any form of hate.

One of our district goals has been to “Advance the work of inclusivity and equity throughout the district. Expand institutional awareness, establish stronger connections with marginalized groups, and engage students and regional partners.”  To this end, we have put in a great deal of effort working toward this goal.  A complete list of our equity and inclusivity work thus far can be found here.

While this is an essential goal for our district, we know we have so much more work to do.  There are students in our community who have been the targets of racism, both active and passive - and this is wrong.  As a district, we need to better educate ourselves, our students, and our community on the mutual benefits when all races, religions, and cultures accept,  respect, and learn from one another.  As a community, we need to work as one to make this world a better place.  As individuals, we need to do a better job of identifying our own bias, both explicit and implicit, and stop such behaviors.  

Racism is not a political problem.  Racism is not a Minneapolis problem.  Racism is not someone else’s problem.  Racism is our problem.  Until every person in our community is accepted, respected, and treated with dignity, and diversity is seen not as a challenge to be overcome, but an asset that benefits everyone in our community, we all have work to do.

At our upcoming Board meeting on June 22, the Board will address the specific topic of school mascot raised by our One Spirit club.  At our annual Board of Education retreat June 25, and our goal, progress, and plan for moving forward with this important topic will be discussed.  In the days that follow, I will be sending a letter outlining our next steps as we look to create a more inclusive, equitable school environment.  Those steps will rely on everyone - Board members, administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents - working together.  

The only way we will conquer racism in our community is if we are all in this together.

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