Dear SSD Students, Families, and Staff,
Yesterday we shared with you that we learned of protests that were planned for today, at multiple locations in our district. At the time of yesterday’s message, the information shared by organizers of the event indicated the demonstrations would be peaceful, students would protest at their respective schools, and when not allowed to enter school students would then go to the District Office to continue to protest. In preparation, we set aside spaces at each school for students to protest, and we allowed parents to join them on campus. Additionally, staff and administrators were instructed, and encouraged, to support the students’ right to protest peacefully.
At the middle school, that is exactly what happened; unfortunately, the situation at the high school escalated in the following manner:
- Multiple adults, including some who are not Sherwood residents, called for students to force their way into the school, unmasked
- In response, students crowded into the front entry vestibule, with some instigating physically aggressive contact towards SHS and district staff members
- Students attempting to enter the school who were not involved with the protest were unable to do so as a result of this crowding
Our district team holds the safety and security of all students in the highest regard. Equally important to us is the functioning of the learning environment. This morning, what happened at the high school was not peaceful, was not safe for students or staff, and disrupted the operations of the school. As a result, going forward we have to take a different approach which continues to allow students their right to protest, but creates a safer environment for all present.
Starting tomorrow, parents are welcome to drop off or pick up their students via designated drop off lanes, or visit any of our schools if they have an appointment with school staff; however, adults wishing to protest will need to do so off-campus and are welcome to use the sidewalks in front of our schools. Additionally, we will continue to have an increased staff presence at the entry ways of our secondary schools tomorrow, in the event that a second day of protests occurs. Our greatest hope is that today was an anomaly based on heightened emotions, and that if students protest again, they will do so safely and peacefully.
We remind everyone of our Board policies related to student demonstrations and public conduct on District property, and call for those policies to be adhered to by all, as well as all applicable school rules in the Student Body Handbook. We are continuing to review information (videos, etc.) related to today’s events, and will be determining appropriate consequences for students identified in violation of school rules and policies; additionally, adults identified as having violated the above public conduct policy may be trespassed from our campuses.
I would like to thank the staff at the middle and high schools this morning for conducting themselves with great professionalism under challenging circumstances.
Dr. Heather Cordie