NSBoro district commits to work “preparing students to oppose systemic racism, prejudice, hatred, and intolerance”

by beth on June 10, 2020

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The public schools of Northborough and Southborough issued a “response” to “widespread civic unrest”.

Over 30 administrative leaders, district department heads, and heads of schools, made a commitment to “stand in alliance with those who are or have experienced racism and inequality,” and “work for change”.

The letter acknowledges that the team is “predominately white”. Among the commitments made is that they will examine biases in themselves and the system. They also pledged to ensure the curriculum includes representation of “diverse cultures”.

BLM protest in Northborough (photo by Beth Melo)Over the weekend, a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally organized by Algonquin juniors Sarah Saeed and Kathryn Zaia drew approximately 400 people to the Northborough Common. Many of the masked attendees were teenagers. State Senator James Eldridge attended but did not speak.

Saed and Zaia spoke along with three other young women. At one point attendees were asked to take a knee.* Following the speeches, protesters were invited to stay. Many stood along the Northborough common border displaying signs and encouraging honks from cars passing by.

BLM protest in Northborough (photo by Beth Melo)The speeches were shared via a link in event coverage by The Harbinger, Algonquin’s student newspaper. They were also shared with attendees who had pre-registered.

ARHS alum Mariam Ibrahimi’s remarks included a call to action related to the schools. She stated:

The history of America’s policing system, let alone the reality of Black history, is one that is never taught in social studies’ curriculums to maintain a nationalistic and white-centric view of America.

Further into her speech, she told attendees to:

Demand a more comprehensive study of Black history in our schools!

Yesterday afternoon, District leadership issued a letter to the public and the school community. It doesn’t indicate that leaders were aware of any calls to action directed at district schools. Instead, it is positioned as their response to the national movement for social justice.

Below is the full statement:

As we bear witness to the widespread civic unrest that has developed in our country as a result of hatred, racism, and intolerance, we, the Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough Leadership Team, denounce all violence and discriminatory acts against black people and acknowledge our responsibility to act.

The Public Schools of Northborough and Southborough Leadership Team is predominately white. Although we bring to our work a variety of diverse experiences and backgrounds, we do not bring to our work a real understanding of the experiences our black students, families, and friends live as a result of their race. Yet, we stand in alliance with those who are or have experienced racism and inequality, and we commit to continue to work for change. We are committed to our continued journey in educating ourselves on the effects of white privilege and unconscious bias and fighting systemic racism to advance equity and social justice in our society.

We believe that our educational community plays a fundamental role in preparing students to oppose systemic racism, prejudice, hatred, and intolerance and that our District has much work to accomplish in this area. This work involves a:

  • Courageous examination of our own system’s biases;
  • Commitment to examine curricula and ensure that it is representative of diverse cultures;
  • Close analysis of the achievement and opportunity gaps that exist within our system;
  • Partnership with our families and our communities in open dialogue around dismantling structures of sustained racism to provide a truly inclusive and equitable educational community.

This examination, accountability, and reaffirmed commitment will enable us to provide our students with the tools, skills, and knowledge to fight racism, prejudice, hatred, and intolerance to create a better future where there is equity and social justice in our society.

Respectfully,
Gregory Martineau, Superintendent of Schools
Rhoda Webb, Interim Assistant Superintendent
Stefanie Reinhorn, Assistant Superintendent (July 1, 2020)
Marie Alan, Director of Student Support Services
Kate Clark, Assistant Director of Student Support Services
Jennifer Cuker, Interim Director of English Language Education
Julie Doyle, Director of Instructional Technology and Digital Learning
Mary Ellen Duggan, District Wellness Coordinator
Jennifer Henry, Early Childhood Administrator
Keith Lavoie, Director of Operations
Deborah Lemieux, Assistant Director of Student Support Services
Erica Matthew, Assistant Director of Student Support Services
Rebecca Pellegrino, Director of Finance
Heather Richards, Director of Human Resources
Sara Pragluski Walsh, Principal, Algonquin Regional High School
Cathleen Carmignani, Assistant Principal, Algonquin Regional High School
Timothy McDonald, Assistant Principal, Algonquin Regional High School
Andrew McGowan, Assistant Principal, Algonquin Regional High School
Michael Mocerino, Director of Athletics
Michelle Karb, Principal, Melican Middle School
Jennifer Callaghan, Assistant Principal, Melican Middle School
Mary Coakley, Principal, Peaslee School
Alana Cyr, Principal, Proctor School
Amy Souls, Principal, Zeh School
Jennifer Wright, Principal, Lincoln Street School
Gary Hreschuk, Principal, Trottier Middle School
Stacy Mahoney, Assistant Principal, Trottier Middle School
Steven Mucci, Principal, Woodward School
Clayton Ryan, Principal, Finn School
Kathleen Valenti, Principal, Neary School
Kyle Parson, Northborough & Southborough Food Services Manager
Dianne Cofer, Algonquin Food Services Manager

*You may have noticed in my pictures two Northborough police officers kneeling in the middle of the crowd. Initially, they were behind the crowd. After an attendee collapsed, they came forward to check on her. The call to kneel began while they were on the field, and they kneeled with the surrounding crowd. (Thankfully, after the EMTs arrived, the person who passed out eventually left the field with EMTs on her own feet.)

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