ANWSD adopts anti-bias statement

VERGENNES — The Addison Northwest School Board last week adopted a statement for “Safe, Civil and Anti-Racist Schools” that board members said makes a stand for acceptance for all and could eventually lead to a larger “District Equity Policy.”
“I hope it leads us to broader measures,” said Board Chairperson John Stroup.
The policy paints with a broader brush, touching on discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, income, political affiliation and more in an effort to be comprehensive.
According to Stroup, the writing process was informed by “a lot of feedback” and discussions before he and board members Laurie Childers, Mark Koenig and Kristina MacKulin produced the final draft adopted at the board’s Dec. 14 meeting.
In his notes to the board, he wrote, “I think this resulting statement will build momentum to support the work of our Policy Committee as it works with a broad set of constituents to develop a District Equity Policy, guided by the Vermont School Boards Association’s model policy.”
Resident and Zoom meeting attendee Jon Kidde applauded the board’s work and decision.
“It is really important. It means a lot to me, and I think it is very needed, sadly, during this time, Kidde said. “And the board considering it, and passing it, makes me proud to be part of this community. So thank you very much for drafting it. I genuinely appreciate it.”
The statement reads in full:
“ANWSD Board Statement Reaffirming its Commitment to Safe, Civil, and Anti-Racist Schools
The Superintendent and Directors of the Addison Northwest School District wish to reassure the members of our educational community in these uncertain times. We remain committed to maintaining safe and welcoming schools regardless of race, gender, disability, national origin, documentation, religion, sexual orientation, political orientation, or family income. In addition to compliance with the law, we also have a moral and ethical duty to protect all who pass through the doors of our schools and to provide our students with an equitable education.
The Board emphatically endorses and supports a learning environment and shared community void of hate, bias, bigotry, and racism. We condemn white supremacy and unequivocally believe that Black lives matter. We charge the members of the ANWSD community with creating a safe, civil, and kind learning environment. Everyone — parents, students, staff, board members, community members — must take seriously the need to speak openly against hate of all kinds. We will recognize, respond to, and redress bias and inequities in our systems, policies, and practices. We will create and sustain an equitable learning environment in which we treat one another with respect and dignity. We can each lead through example, and with this statement the ANWSD Board hereby reaffirms its commitment to providing an equitable, just, and inclusive learning environment for all students.”

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