Dear APS Community,
Arlington Public Schools is committed to providing safe, supportive, and inclusive environments for all students that are free of hate, bias, and discrimination. This is a core APS value which we uphold, whether classes are being conducted online or in person.
On Tuesday, as part of a class exercise, an H-B Woodlawn teacher shared an example with students that showed significant racial insensitivity. The content referenced the killing of George Floyd in an unacceptable and senseless way, which hurt and alarmed our students, staff, families, and the community. The reference showed extremely poor judgement and a blatant disregard for African American lives.
This act violates the core values of the school system and reinforces the importance of the work we have been doing, and must continue to do, to employ culturally responsive teaching practices and to combat systemic racism. The teacher has been relieved of classroom duties while an investigation related to this matter takes place. I want to assure everyone that this situation will be handled in accordance with our policies, and all staff are held to the highest standards of professional behavior.
I applaud our students who spoke up and the quick response by the principal and staff to address this matter directly by issuing a statement, arranging to meet with staff and students, and working with the entire school community to process the incident.
While we have made major progress to improve our policies and programs, we know we have more work to do. We are incorporating frameworks like No Place for Hate this year to reinforce that Arlington Public Schools is a safe learning community and to empower our staff and students to take a stand against bias and bullying.
We must continue to work to ensure that our delivery of the curriculum is free of culturally or racially insensitive language that in any way adversely affects students. We will continue to focus on providing professional learning opportunities geared to enabling teachers to use specific prejudice reduction curricula, materials, and techniques in the classroom. We commit to continued steps to foster open dialogue and to provide meaningful and ongoing diversity and inclusion training for our educators. This work is expected to increase employees’ sensitivity to the phenomena of prejudice and how its impact may result in emotional, psychological, and educational damage.
This is an issue that requires constant vigilance and long-term commitment. With the help of our community, we will continue the important work underway.
Dr. Francisco Durán
Arlington Public Schools