Important Message from Aledo ISD
Update April 17, 2021:
I know I speak for our entire Aledo community when I say that I am deeply sorry that a few of our students engaged in racial harassment of two of our students of color in a social media chat. I am also deeply sorry for the hurt that it has caused the victims and their families. It was totally unacceptable to all of us, and it should not have happened.
We have an extraordinary Bearcat staff who work every day to make sure that every single one of our 6800 students feels and knows that they are safe, valued, and loved on our campuses. This incident reminds us that we have work to do together in an effort to make sure that truly happens for every student every day.
We believe that we can find a way to work in unity community-wide toward this end. It will take time. In the district, our initial work will involve:
- Ensuring clarity for our students and staff, using our Student Code of Conduct, around how staff responds to and the discipline consequences for the use of racially offensive language and racial slurs;
- Creating clarity for our staff that stating any racial slur is always unacceptable, even when investigating student misconduct;
- Forming a Board of Trustees subcommittee that will work with staff and community members to sustain a focus on these issues in our schools; and
- Planning for parent training opportunities through our Parenting University program about racism and the use of social media by children.
There is more to come, and our work together on addressing racism in and with our community is a priority. As in all things in Aledo ISD, we are reflective and work every day to be better than we were the day before in service to our children and each other.
Update April 14, 2021:
I want to address the false reports on social media and in the media that our campus and district took little or no action in response to the recent incident of racism that occurred among a small group of students at one of our campuses. On the contrary, the incident was quickly and fully investigated immediately after we became aware of the incident, and we formally determined that students had engaged in racial harassment and cyberbullying. We also began conversations about the best way for our schools to be part of the community-wide work necessary to address racism and its impact in our community.
Though federal and state laws prohibit the district from sharing the discipline that the students received, it is extensive and ongoing. We did not respond in this way because or after it was posted on social media or because the local or national media became interested. We responded in this way because not only are these actions wrong and have a profound negative impact on the victims, but they are also in direct violation of our policies and code of conduct that are designed to protect our students. Aledo ISD has zero tolerance for racial harassment.
Though we can assume that false reports will continue to be made, we will maintain our focus on our plans for supporting our students, staff and parents with education in an effort to make sure that something like this does not happen to and among our students again and that all students feel safe, loved and supported in our schools.
April 12, 2021:
There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period. Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.
More than two weeks ago, the district learned of an incident that involved students from the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus bullying and harassing other students based on their race and launched an immediate and thorough investigation that involved law enforcement. We made a formal determination that racial harassment and cyber bullying had occurred and assigned disciplinary consequences in accordance with our policy and the Student Code of Conduct. This incident has caused tremendous pain for the victims, their families, and other students of color and their families, and for that we are deeply saddened.
After being notified of the incident, the Aledo ISD immediately engaged in conversations and communication with students and the student group that was involved, as well as their parents, and made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims. We also shared this message with staff and parents at the campus.
The Aledo ISD will continue to take action to ensure students, staff and parents in our community understand the negative impact of racism and other forms of harassment on victims as well as the consequences of these actions at school through district-led educational opportunities.
We live in a community that comes together in support of its children and families, especially in difficult times, and we want our students of color to understand that they are loved and supported in Aledo ISD. We ask that our parents and community continue to have important conversations with their children at home about racism and other forms of harassment as we all work together as a community to support our Bearcats.