Letter to the editor: ACSU board condemns acts of violence

Editor’s note: Addison Central School District Board of Directors voted unanimously on Nov. 21 to issue this statement regarding recent bias-related incidents in the community.
Recently, there have been incidents involving hateful messages and symbols that targeted Muslim students at Middlebury College and The Addison County Jewish Congregation at Havurah House. Hate crimes and bias-related incidents in our community affect all of us. While these kinds of incidents are not new, they are occurring in a social environment that is changing.
The past two weeks in our schools have been challenging for many of our students as well, with an increase in statements of bias and intolerance in our halls. Our students are working to understand these events, and the messages they are hearing on social media. As an educational community, however, our message is clear: we are all neighbors, and neighbors care for each other. These actions have no place here.
Harassment, hazing and bullying of any person in our school community, and particularly with respect to a person’s race, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability, violate district policies. More than that, they violate our core values as a community. At the heart of our mission is the cultivation of empathy and responsibility — not just in our students, but in the school community as a whole.
We firmly believe that students have the best chance to reach their fullest potential when they can learn, question and interact in an environment that is safe, and that actively values each and every person. The Addison Central School Board, administrators, faculty and staff are committed to creating and maintaining this environment, and to nurturing connections between each of us that help us understand and relate to one another as friends, colleagues, neighbors, peers, educators and students in the world community. We will support our students, parents, faculty, staff and administrators as they talk with each other, understand and respond to these incidents locally, nationally and around the world.
These can be challenging conversations to have in a challenging time. We urge members of the community to engage in thoughtful, caring, accountable and respectful discussion about these events, and to understand that they impact each of us, often in different ways. We are working on ways in which we, as educators, can do more and we encourage everyone’s participation in that effort. In addition to our current districts’ policies prohibiting harassment, hazing and bullying, the Board’s Policy Committee will be looking at ways in which we may address bias more broadly. The committee meets publicly, and we encourage community members to attend, participate and offer feedback. Please visit our district website (www.acsu.org), for information on policies, meeting dates and more.
Addison Central School District Board of Directors

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