Letter to the editor: ACSD must to more to prevent acts of racism

I was sad but not a bit surprised to learn of the overt racism Esther Charlestin experienced during her year as Dean of Culture and Climate at Middlebury Union Middle School. 

When students and staff perpetrate racism in our schools, we MUST have policies in place to both address the harm done, and to support those who have committed racist acts in understanding their actions, and why they are unacceptable. These policies need to be in service to teaching the whole school community how to do better. Acts of racism should NOT be treated the same as other incidents of student misbehavior. 

I have heard stories from families whose kids have experienced racist aggression at ACSD for many years now. Can’t we learn from our past mistakes? I know these are difficult issues to confront, because in order to face this head-on and build learning environments where everyone feels respected and included, those of us in positions of power and privilege need to be willing to look at our own biases, and that is uncomfortable. But we can and must do hard things! 

The Community Forum piece by ACSD Interim Superintendent Timothy Williams reads like a laundry list of all the things ACSD is doing to build equity in our district. While I’m glad we are taking these steps, I would really like to see the Superintendent and the School Board apologize to Dean Charlestin for the unacceptably hostile work environment she endured and say out loud that dismantling white supremacy is a top priority.

Joanna Colwell


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