I want to thank the Portland Board of Education and the superintendent of schools for acknowledging our community’s concerns about the allegations of racism and misogyny in our school system. I appreciate the incredible work done by the board and superintendent during this especially difficult time to address these potentially systemic issues.

I sent a letter to the school board, signed by 33 other residents of Portland and alumni of Portland public schools, on Aug. 12. We called for the board to conduct and complete a thorough and swift investigation of the complaints reported in the Press Herald on June 23. The result should be a publicly available report and qualified recommendations for action based upon the result of the investigations of the allegations. We need a detailed plan for accountability going forward when acts of discrimination occur. Our students deserve their voices to be heard.

I received positive feedback from many board members. I also had a very positive conversation with Superintendent Xavier Botana earlier in July. Maintaining a safe environment and anti-discrimination in our schools is clearly important to the superintendent and the board members that responded to our letter.

As we work on re-opening our schools in the face of COVID-19, let us keep in mind that the reason why George Floyd’s murder sparked such a world-wide response is because of the pandemic. We must be vigilant in the pursuit of safety in our schools – the pandemic will not wait for us to be ready.

Geoff Slack

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