Dear AUSD Families,
Over the last several years, Alameda Unified, like other school districts, has confronted expressions of bigotry and racism in forms ranging from hateful graffiti to troubling social media posts. While we believe that the majority of students in our community have a genuine appreciation and respect for our wonderful cross-cultural community, we are periodically reminded that there is a much smaller number of individuals who, for a variety of reasons, opt to attempt to shock or genuinely harm others with bigoted acts or expressions.
Though incidents like these may be comparatively small in overall number, each incident of this nature packs the potential to make large numbers of our students, staff, and families feel intimidated, distressed, or threatened, and no one in our community deserves to feel that way at or around school.
As such it is critical that each family in AUSD have a conversation with their students before the school year begins to reinforce non-negotiable expectations of respect for the ancestry, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or gender expression of all in our school communities.
The Parent Handbook you are signing in our Data Confirmation packet, as a prerequisite to your child’s enrollment in AUSD, contains a revised discipline matrix and an anti-bullying statement that respectively convey that there will be consequences and interventions for hateful or bigoted language or behaviors, and that every student and family has a path to report this type of harm to each school’s administration.
AUSD will take these matters very seriously and as such we again ask that you review these general expectations with students as engaging in these behaviors could result in consequences including suspension, expulsion, and in the most serious cases, referrals to law enforcement.
As we said in the wake of one such incident in December of 2022, while a hard line on this issue is appropriate, it does not mean we will abandon our function as educators. We will also continue to utilize restorative practices and educational components as many of our educators already do in our classrooms, as well as in a cross-section of social studies coursework, during advisory periods, and through a variety of assigned literature and projects.
We are asking all school leaders to help reinforce these values at the school and classroom level as well.
Sustaining a genuinely inclusive and globally respectful school community requires a partnership between families and schools. While we will continue to refine the formal educational components and behavioral responses on our end, we urge each family in AUSD to have a short, direct, and hopefully courageous conversation about these expectations prior to the beginning of the school year. Resources for having these crucial – and admittedly sometimes difficult – conversations with your student are available on our website under Tools for Family Conversation.
Together, we truly can continuously shape our schools and communities toward the better with small, but intentional acts and candid conversations about our collective expectations of respect and inclusion.