NORTON SHORES, Mich. — The Mona Shores School Board is making important decisions in preparation for the 2020-21 school year.
In June that included approval of an initial budget and passing a Black Lives Matter resolution.
The resolution states the district's conviction that schools should be places of equality, understanding and engagement in creating pathways to freedom and justice for all people.
The resolution was passed unanimously at the board's meeting June 29.
"One of our school board members drafted the resolution initially, Mr. Wesley Wilson," said Mona Shores Board of Education President Stan Miller. "He's actually a 2016 graduate of Mona Shores."
The resolution acknowledges the "Black Lives Matter" movement advocating non-violent civil disobedience in protest against police brutality against African-American people.
According to Miller the two-page resolution will guide the district as it works to combat and reverse systemic racism that exists in the Mona Shores community and schools. It holds district leaders accountable to properly discipline students or faculty if they exhibit discriminatory or racist behavior.
"We haven't tolerated it in the past but we want it to be clear that we will not tolerate it in the future," said Miller.
The resolution also challenges district leaders to expand the role and scope of its' Culture and Diversity Committee.
"We will bulk up that committee to be sure that we have all voices heard and including student voices," said Miller. "We hope students can drive some ideas for how to combat the systemic racism that is prevalent in our community."
According to Miller passing the Black Lives Matter resolution is a public step showing non-white students and staff in the district that they're seen, will be heard, and are valuable members of "Sailor Nation."
"We do hope that already this fall, and even before school starts this fall that the resolution encourages our students and staff to begin having these conversations," said Miller.
The full resolution sent to Mona Shores community members:
MONA SHORES RESOLUTION REGARDING BLACK LIVES MATTER AT SCHOOL
WHEREAS in response to both the current and historically disparate treatment of Black Americans and other minorities, a nationwide movement has arisen to assert that Black Lives Matter;
WHEREAS schools should be places for practice of equality, for the building of understanding, and for the active engagement of all in creating pathways to freedom and justice for all people;
WHEREAS Mona Shores' growth as a primarily white school district occurred as a result of endemic racist housing policies, restrictive covenants, and intentional urban planning that prevented people of color from even entering white spaces, let alone establishing themselves in the city in any permanent way. This historic pattern must be recognized;
WHEREAS Mona Shores Public Schools seeks to address institutionalized racism in our schools and community, and in the future offer spaces for dialogue among staff by supporting and facilitating professional development work related to race and other challenging topics;
WHEREAS as a public school district, we are facilitators of the limitless growth potential of human beings. Our charge is to pour every ounce of creativity and energy that we have into the task of helping young people find and achieve their purpose. Our purpose must be guided by the belief that every human being deserves to live with dignity and that each of our students can leave his or her communities better than he or she found them;
WHEREAS the killing of unarmed Black men and women has left young people searching for answers to incredibly complicated and infuriating questions;
WHEREAS right now that means affirming that we are committed to the emotional and physical safety of Black students. It means that our schools and classrooms must be safe spaces for dialogue and support on the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement;
WHEREAS proclaiming that Black Lives Matter does not negate our commitment to all of our students. In fact, we believe that challenging all of our students and colleagues to recognize the innate value of Black lives will help all of our students grow because all lives cannot matter until Black lives do;
WHEREAS historically, when Black people have fought for a more democratic society, the lives of all people have improved. Each time barriers to Black people’s potential have been erected, our whole society has suffered;
WHEREAS educators know that each of our students has different needs and that none of their lives end at our classroom doors. When our students are hungry or struggle emotionally, they do not learn as well as they otherwise could. When our students witness or experience violence, they suffer emotionally and physically. To maximize student potential, our school system must meet the needs of our students in different ways. Right now, it is especially important for Black students to know that we value them,
WHEREAS problems in our schools mirror those in our society. Society is plagued with poverty,
growing inequality, and violence. For our schools to be safe and centers of respect for the
educational process, students, staff, parents and community must all come together for the
betterment of our students’ future now; and
WHEREAS the problems mirrored in schools can only be fully addressed with a united effort of
community and school coming together; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that Mona Shores Public Schools:
- Will strive to create spaces for discussion and dialogue, as well as continue to focus on hiring a more diverse group of support staff, educators, and administrators in the district.;
- Will continue to use and refine quality restorative justice practices district-wide, with the goal of training all staff in those practices;
- Will expand the role and scope of the Culture and Diversity Committee— to be comprised of community, parents, educators, Board members and students and structured at the Superintendent’s discretion — to assist in reviewing, strengthening, and creating curriculum and policy related to the issues raised by the this movement, the efforts to derail the school-to-prison pipeline, the broader historical experience of the Black community, and present schooling experience;
- Charges the above Culture and Diversity Committee with assisting in recommending and then implementing policy and curriculum and establishing quality dialog with staff, parents, students and community;
- Will call on student leaders of all types to participate in advancing this discussion and implementation;
- Will continue to create a curriculum that is diverse and intentionally anti-racist that includes but is not limited to issues and events in Black history and Black culture such as Jim Crow laws, segregation, the creation of jazz and hip-hop, Juneteenth, Tulsa Massacre, redlining and the failures of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the whitewashing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., code-switching, achievements in media and culture, and other historic events and racist crimes in American history;
- Will include discussions of biases, racial microaggressions, school-wide data on race and discipline, fears, cultural ignorance, and stereotypes of Black youth;
- Will continue to properly discipline students and faculty when they exhibit discriminatory or racist behavior, and maintain clearly delineated consequences of discriminatory and racist behavior such as mandatory anti-racism education;
- Will train school staffs in methods of de-escalation, mindfulness, creating a culture of trust, and cultural relevance;
- Will review its programs that may be contributing to unfair, unequal power relationships with community and school policing; and
- That the goals of this process include bringing the community into our schools and strengthening schools as centers of support for communities.
For the Board,
Stan Miller, President
Mona Shores Public Schools Board of Education
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