Dear Orange Families,
As discussion continues around recent events, I am writing to clarify the District’s stance. First, the killing of George Floyd was senseless and unjustified. The District, as stated in a previous message, does not support racism or oppression in any way. Last week, I was approached via email by a couple of recent graduates about their desire to have a protest against the senseless police brutality that took Floyd’s life, aligning with Black Lives Matter (BLM). The BLM website states the following:
We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Our network centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements (retrieved on June 6, 2020)
These students have the support of the District and alumni who have also written to me. As a No Place for Hate school, Orange High School students have participated in events consistent with the beliefs of the Anti Defamation League (ADL) whose mission, according to their website envisions:
...an America where those who seemed different were not targets of discrimination and threats, but were equals, worthy of shared opportunity and a place in the American dream. This vision remains relevant today, its call to action as urgent (retrieved on June 6, 2020)
Both of the above-referenced statements are in alignment with the stated beliefs of the District that were released earlier in the week. In the week ahead, plans are in the works for students to have a voice and to stand in solidarity with those who oppose hate, oppression and racism. Police officials have been in contact with the District and students to make sure that the protest/demonstration is secure, partnering to ensure the safety of students and their spectators as they stand in front of the campus with signs along Chagrin Blvd. The date and time are forthcoming.
Earlier this week, No Place for Hate Coordinator Jess Boeke and Orange High School Principal Dr. Lucas began working to arrange a Zoom session with the ADL who will facilitate a discussion with students, Dr. Lucas and some OHS staff to process the events of the murder of George Floyd, understand an overview of systemic racism, and to discuss what it means to be an ally. This voluntary session, as well as the student BLM demonstration, are in the planning phase, and as soon as details are available, the District will communicate them.
Finally, please note that the safety of students is our top priority. Part of that safety includes making sure students are treated fairly and respectfully. Furthermore, it is important to note the following Board Policy:
Any form of discrimination or harassment can be devastating to an individual's academic progress, social relationship and/or personal sense of self-worth. As such, the Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation, transgender identity or expression), disability, age (except as authorized by law), religion, military status, ancestry, or genetic information (collectively, "Protected Classes") in its educational programs or activities. The District will not discriminate on any of the foregoing bases or any other basis prohibited by federal, state, or local law or District policy.
As we move ahead, Orange Schools will continue to celebrate diversity and support all of our students. The administration will commit to not only continue efforts in place, but seek ways to improve our engagement of students and staff that are consistent with BLM, ADL and others who stand to protect civil rights and social justice in peaceful ways.
Dr. Lynn Campbell