An important message from Dr. Marty
June 25, 2020
Dear Parkway Staff,
The following message was sent to all students and parents grades 6-12 today.
Dear Parkway Parents and Students,
Last August, as we started the school year, I sent you a message concerning social media posts that threatened the safety of our schools, students and staff. At that time, I indicated there would be no tolerance for such threats, and students found responsible should expect severe disciplinary consequences. For the most part, the message was heeded, and consequently, we had a much safer school year related to social media threats and posts.
Unfortunately, in the past few weeks, we have seen some social media posts that also threaten student and staff safety and well being. I have heard from many students who wanted to ensure we were aware of these posts and also relayed their hurt, fear and concerns over this behavior from classmates.
Racism and racist language/behavior on social media causes everlasting harm, degrades Parkway students and staff, and frankly, are against everything Parkway stands for and represents. Racism undermines our mission, commitments, tradition, reputation, character principles and the moral fabric and core values of our outstanding school district and community. Personally, I am sickened by this behavior and the impact it has on many in our Parkway family.
We have had racism and hate speech come to our attention in the past few years. Some believe that school and district leaders do not respond to such actions. Truth be told, we have disciplined a number of students and imposed significant long-term consequences. I do not believe any young person would want to face the sanctions and personal pain these students have experienced as a result of their behaviors and actions. Nor do we want any member of our community to go through the pain of being a victim of racist remarks. According to the law, school districts cannot publish or reveal disciplinary actions and consequences that are imposed by school administrators and the Board of Education. What students may have originally thought was funny or humorous led to discipline, social consequences for them and their family, news media coverage, and long-term disciplinary consequences and required actions to restore their relationships and reputations with peers and adults within their school, district and community.
Parkway will continue to hold anyone responsible for participating in hurtful and harmful racist comments accountable for their actions. Any act that degrades a race, culture, religion, gender, and/or orientation will be investigated by school and district officials. There will be no tolerance for those who choose to purposely degrade others.
It is impossible for us to do this work alone. Parents, we need your help and active participation in teaching our children the harmful consequences of their behavior. As I shared last year, I encourage you to have conversations with your children concerning the harm and the personal implications this behavior may have. Young adults must be aware of the significant impact of their words, actions and behavior. There are consequences at school, at home, and in their social relationships, especially when their words and actions are widely shared and documented forever online.
We also need your help as we demonstrate love, respect, care and common courtesy for all students, families and Parkway employees. Students need to be aware this behavior is wrong, hurtful and has significant consequences. When student behavior does not match our expectations, it is a teaching opportunity for both educators and parents to demonstrate how actions will impact not only their lives but the lives of others both today and beyond.
I ask that you discuss with your children the topic of race in our country and region. Nearly 40 percent of Parkway students are non-White. Parkway truly represents the beautiful diversity of the United States. While we cannot solve the larger social and cultural problems of the nation alone, we can make a difference in our own homes and community. We should celebrate our diversity, our cultures and our community. We must demonstrate civility and compassion for each other.
I also want to share with you a recent decision to move forward with an Equity and Diversity Acceleration Task Force in Parkway. The recommendation to form this community group was one of the outcomes of our equity evaluation last school year. This group will develop action plans based on the equity evaluation to improve the experience of our diverse community. The task force will include Parkway staff, parents, students and community members with diverse backgrounds, including local and state government, religious leadership and local law enforcement.
As your superintendent, it is my responsibility to ensure all of our students are physically, emotionally and socially safe and healthy. We need to work together and take personal responsibility and accountability for our actions and our words. Thank you for your commitment to partnering with us and thank you for taking care of all.
Keith A. Marty