ACPS officials release statement on racial justice and equality

ACPS officials release statement on racial justice and equality
Bus with Albemarle County Public Schools (FILE) (Source: WVIR)

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County Public Schools’ superintendent and school board chair issued a statement Tuesday, June 2, in response to the death of George Floyd.

The joint release from Dr. Matthew Haas and Jonno Alcaro quotes Doctor Martin Luther King Junior, and talks about the steps ACPS has already taken, such as implementing an anti-racism policy.

The statement says in part, “All students and all employees are entitled in our schools to equal opportunity to learn, to grow, to meet their highest potential. And they are entitled to achieve these goals safely, enthusiastically, warmly.”

06/02/2020 Release from Albemarle County Public Schools:

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Chair of the Albemarle County School Board, Jonno Alcaro, and the Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, Dr. Matthew Haas, have issued the following statement on racial justice and equality this afternoon:

Dear Members of Our Community:

He said that if something wasn’t done, and in a hurry, to bring Black people out of their long years of poverty, their long years of hurt and neglect, the whole world is doomed. “It is no longer the choice … between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said those words shortly before he was murdered more than 52 years ago. Now, Dr. King’s sadly prophetic words again have come true following the murder of another black man.

The choice offered up by Dr. King has a special relevance to our public schools, the place in which the promises that all men are created equal and all men are entitled, unencumbered, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are to be fulfilled. For that to happen, all students and all employees are entitled in our schools to equal opportunity to learn, to grow, to meet their highest potential. And they are entitled to achieve these goals safely, enthusiastically, warmly.

As a society, in our hearts, we know how to get there. The challenge is whether it will come from respecting and understanding one another, from treating one another with dignity and kindness, from honoring the contributions that come from our differences, from joining together in high purpose, or whether it will come after repeatedly reliving the death and destruction we have seen far too many times in our cities and towns.

In the midst of the darkness that unfolds every time we turn on the television, open a newspaper, or visit a website, there is light. Two weeks ago, many of our students who wrote one of the few anti-racism policies of any school division in the nation, joined by their peers, hosted a community town hall on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our Black and Latinx populations. One, Naquell Perry, was invited to speak at the governor’s news conference on racial justice and equality, making the encouraging point that he and his peers are the future. This past weekend, close to 100 of our students illustrated the saliency of this point by peacefully demonstrating in support of racial justice and equality.

One of our students said about our anti-racism policy, “We do not want to chop down racism; we want to pull it out by its roots.” That policy requires every member of our school division to be trained in its implementation, and this will begin in the near future when members of the School Board will devote an entire meeting to their own training.

The poet John Donne often is quoted for writing, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” We are less today because of the unconscionable death of George Floyd and of so many other innocent people of color over the past few years.

The Albemarle County School Board and our school division reject all forms of racism as destructive to our mission, values and goals. If we are to realize Dr. King’s hope that “the dark clouds of racial prejudice … and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities,” equality, justice and decency must prevail in our schools, in our communities, in our nation.

Only then, as Dr. King said, will “the radiant stars of love and brotherhood … shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

Please stay safe.

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