In the past month, the Lower Merion School District, like many schools and organizations, has begun to take a hard look at our District policies, programs, curriculum and overall institution. As an educational organization, we have an obligation to review, reflect and make sure that we provide an environment that is physically, emotionally and psychologically safe and supportive for every student. We recognize that we must confront and act upon systemic racism to ensure we are fulfilling our educational mission and serving our students and community.
It has been brought to our attention in recent weeks that on certain social media platforms many students have come forward to share incidents of micro-aggressions and discrimination they experienced within our schools related to race, gender identity and/or sexual orientation. There have also been stories of self-harming behaviors and alarming mental health needs. We understand that the students who have shared their stories are calling on us to do better and to be better. We also understand that some students may need immediate help and we want to provide a platform that will allow us to respond to those needs.
Therefore, we have created this form as a platform for members of our LMSD community to share their experiences with members of the School Board and Administrative Departments such as Student Services, Human Relations, Policy and Curriculum – all of whom work to help students and to ensure that our school community is welcoming and inclusive.
All members of the LMSD community are urged to use this form to share testimonies, including concerns about how your school handled any social injustices, witnessed or experienced. If you feel comfortable, please include your name, gender pronouns and connection to LMSD. Or, if you prefer, you can remain fully anonymous. Additionally, please indicate if you would like someone from the District to reach back to you to follow up on your concerns. We are also sharing some helpful resources at the end of this letter with which we encourage you to become familiar.
Additionally, students and members of the wider community are invited to participate in a student-organized Town Hall meeting on racism, that will occur (via Zoom) on Thursday, July 16, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. Participants must pre-register here.
It is our obligation not only to listen, but, more importantly, to act swiftly and aggressively to confront injustice and inequity. These lived experiences of our students impacted by racism and discrimination are something we must act upon. As we move forward, we must continue to combat systemic racism and eliminate all forms of discrimination and harassment from our schools.
While we have been working on diversity, equity and inclusivity as a District prior to these recent events, we are now even more determined to have a comprehensive approach to anti-racism in our schools. Our plan is to improve upon exiting initiatives, and to also thoughtfully implement curriculum changes, staff development, recruitment, leadership, student programs, and creating a safe space for every student. We are fully committed to this work and it is an urgent priority. This is going to be challenging work that will require the entire community to commit to act.
Robert Copeland, Superintendent of Schools
Sean Hughes, Principal, Lower Merion High School
Scott Weinstein, Principal, Harriton High School
Christopher Hall, Principal, Welsh Valley Middle School
Sarah Stout, Principal, Bala Cynwyd Middle School