Members of the School Committee and Watertown school officials separately put out statements about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and racial inequity.
John Portz, chair of the Watertown School Committee, read the following statement on behalf of the School Committee at Monday night’s meeting:
The tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the demonstrations that have followed across the country are witness to the racial injustices that continue in our society. As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote many years ago, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
As a school committee, we share the outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death and the frustrations felt by many in failures to address long-standing injustices and inequities in American society.
As a school district, we continue our commitment to equity and respect for differences, through the Responsive Classroom curriculum, Kingian Non-Violence work, the Anti-Bias Coalition, and other district activities in the classroom, in the curriculum, and in all ways that we conduct ourselves as a district.
We stand together denouncing these continued acts of racism and violence against people of color across our country.
The following letter was provided by the administration of the Watertown Public Schools:
Dear Watertown Public Schools Community,
We are profoundly disturbed by the tragic and unnecessary death of George Floyd as well as Ahmaud Arbery’s killing in Georgia and Breonna Taylor’s in Kentucky. We are all negatively impacted by such acts, whether as victims, perpetrators, or bystanders. The families, friends, and community members of these individuals, and the countless others who have been lost to violence, are forever impacted.
To our Black Families, Students, and Community Members, although we recognize and empathize with the hurt and the fear you live with on a daily basis, we know we need to and can do more. Please know, we will work every single day with others throughout our strong Watertown community to make our schools and community places for all of us to thrive and prosper, regardless of race or any other aspect of human diversity.
We, in the Watertown Public Schools, are committed to confronting racism in our school community, as well as creating and ensuring welcoming, affirming, and supportive learning spaces for every single one of our students and their families. We commit to our efforts to promote and live anti-racism and social justice in our schools, as well as to serve and support the distinct needs of our students and families of color who are far too often targets of racism and racist acts. We will continue our efforts to ensure our system is one that aims to engage in purposeful dialogue, dismantle institutional racism, and commit to our students and families to see themselves represented in our staff. We have a long road ahead of us. We have already begun the journey with our Equity Leaders Team, our Kingian Non-Violence and Responsive Classroom programs, our Anti-Bias Coalition, and our community outreach efforts.
In a different time, a time when we were not engulfed in a pandemic, we would call our community together and work on healing through a shared experience, both in school and out. At this time we are not safely able to do so, and we struggle with how best to provide support to our students and staff who are hurting now and may not have an outlet. Even though our buildings are closed, we remain committed to working together to create a better world. We have a strong mental health team that will help and assist. Please reach out to your principal who can help to find the appropriate support for you, your children, or your family should you need assistance.
Thank you for your continued efforts to support our students and families, as well as each other. While we cannot be physically together, we share your hurt, your grieving, and your anger for this continued senseless and unjust loss of life of people of color.
With kindest regards,
Dede Galdston, Ed.D., Superintendent
Theresa McGuinness, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment
Kathleen Desmarais, Director of Student Services
Heidi Perkins, Director of Finance and Operations
Kenneth Storlazzi, Director of Human Resources
Mena Ciarlone, Principal, Cunniff Elementary School
Erin Moulton, Principal, Hosmer Elementary School
Stacy Phelan, Principal, Lowell Elementary School
Donna Martin, Principal, Watertown Middle School
Shirley Lundberg, Principal, Watertown High School
Karen Feeney, Early Childhood Director