The Linn-Mar School Board released a statement during Monday night’s meeting regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. Board president Brittania Morey read it aloud.
“There have been ongoing discussions surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion within our district,” Morey said. “To have members of or community, our own students, state that they feel harassed or marginalized due to their race, gender, sexual orientation or beliefs is hard to hear. At its core, Linn-Mar believes that every student should feel welcome and respected by all who surround them. The fact that this is not the case is simply unacceptable. Creating a safe learning environment that feels welcoming and accepting to all students is a top priority for this board.”
Morey said there is no “easy fix” for the division and feeling of not being accepted. She said the past 20 months haven’t been easy for anyone.
“We also recognize that events surrounding social justice, race relations and income disparity have long plagued our society,” she said. “It is important for all of us to understand that our students watch and listen. They engage and are not as isolated from current events as students have been in the past.”
Morey said students who stood up and walked out of school exercised their right to free speech and highlighted areas of “discord and misunderstanding.”
“The board is here to state to the students, to all of our students, that we are listening,” she said. “We are also listening to concerned parents and community members and we are listening to our teachers and staff. We hear you and we are committed to working with you to bridge this divide and bring our community together.”
Linn-Mar began an “equity committee” this fall. The committee is outlining steps the district can take to address areas of concern.
“These discussions are helpful for us to understand the lived experiences of underrepresented students and to chart a path forward,” Morey said.
The high school administration is also working on a series of steps to work with students to address the division being felt in the hallways, ongoing student engagement to address inclusiveness and sense of belonging in the buildings as well as shifts in policy and procedures.
Morey said the district will work with students to “help them see there are more similarities than differences between them.”
“Moving forward we are committed as a district to a path of continuous improvement efforts in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Morey said. “Ultimately, the work of creating a respectful, unified and inclusive environment is never done.”