A great letter from a community member! A student was attacked by the Board Majority and our (new but now departing) Communications Chief during a Board Meeting. An investigation was supposed to happen and is supposed to be ongoing. To date, no one seems to know what is going on with this investigation. Remember our students and let this inspire you to join SJK to take action by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! ]
We want accountability!
From: “c wilsey”
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Sent: Saturday, May 16, 2015 12:48:14 PM
Subject: Listen to your Community
Dear Mr. Witt,
I have little hope that writing you makes any difference at all. I have yet to receive any reply from a letter I sent to the Board in September of last year. I doubt that you ever read it. It must be really difficult to be receiving so much correspondence. It may even make it easier to ignore because it is almost impossible to read it all. Perhaps that should be one clue that there are some serious problems with your leadership.
The reason I am writing this time is because much attention is being paid to your actions singling out a student at the end of the board meeting on May 7 for “favoriting racial epithets.” While I certainly have a lot to say about how ridiculous and irresponsible this was. I instead want to focus on your final words “I will not have any association with that group,” meaning Jeffco Students for Change. This attitude breaks your Board policies and is simply pathetic. You represent ALL students, not just students who agree with you. These students are fully engaged in the democratic process and it is your responsibility to listen to them. While I know you must be familiar with your own policies, I will highlight some language that I consider relevant to this particular situation:
- Our public schools are essential institutions that reflect community values and prepare students to participate fully in our democratic society.
- Work in partnership with parents and others in the community to ensure that all students thrive.
- Schools are primarily responsible for ensuring that students learn; however, as students mature, they must assume increasingly greater responsibility for their own learning.
- Respect includes valuing differences among people, honoring people as our greatest resource, and giving people quality choices.
- Proactivity rather than reactivity.
- The Board will encourage diversity of viewpoints in discussion and policy-making.
- The Board will provide the link between the Jefferson County School District and the people of Jefferson County through a variety of communication strategies both internal and external.
- Board members should represent the interests of the citizens of the school district. This accountability to the whole district supersedes any conflicting loyalty to other advocacy or interest groups, or citizens of a director district and membership on other boards or staffs. It also supersedes the personal interest of any Board member who is also a parent of a student in the district.
You might also want to do a quick read of GP-17 which is all about community engagement.
For argument’s sake, let’s say that you think this group is simply a bunch of degenerate teenagers. Wouldn’t it be the most responsible thing for you to engage in a conversation with them to let them know you care about them, why you think they are wrong and that you are here to help them learn how to be effective in their actions? You do not have the right to decide that there are community members you simply will not associate with.
What if you believed that your own child was on the “wrong” path? Would you simply turn your back? Or would you lovingly engage to hear that child’s experience and hope that he or she would hear you? I believe you are turning your back on students who truly care about their educations and have a lot to say. Will they always be right? No. Are you? No. That is what listening is about. Again I suggest a rereading of GP-17!
I personally do not think Jeffco Students for Change is on the wrong path. I have watched your Board ignore policy, the community and your own subject experts. You appear to have a political agenda, not the best interests of the district in mind. You would do well to listen more, and especially to our kids.