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Statement from the Washoe County School District: August 14, 2020
Contact: Victoria Campbell
Statement from the Washoe County School District
August 14, 2020
The Washoe County School District is dedicated to ensuring equity, access, and inclusion for all. The District is also fully aware of the disparity in treatment of people of color in our society. We take great pride as a District in making it a priority to ensure that we are protecting the civil rights of our students and we are committed to embracing equity and culturally responsive practices in all facets of our organization. We treasure the gifts and strengths each of our students, families, and staff brings to our district, our community, and our world.
The District has a dedicated Department of Civil Rights Compliance that ensures that acts of discrimination or harassment against students in our District are immediately addressed. The District’s Equity and Diversity Department offers professional development to educators and staff to equip them with tools to understand and challenge inequities. Educators are provided with the means to engage with students and facilitate student clubs or organizations that support our diverse student body. The District has been at the forefront of many important civil rights matters including having a nationally recognized transgender regulation in place since 2015.
Our District community, much like our national community, holds a variety of political viewpoints and, in some instances those viewpoints are in conflict. We have an obligation to accommodate and welcome students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds. We are also entering into an election season. As a result, the District issued clarifications in a Newsletter to Principals on the limits to Freedom of Speech as it applies to both our staff and our students. With regard to staff members, though they are free to engage in political speech in their personal life, it is important that all of our students and families feel welcome and appreciated regardless of their political viewpoints in our schools and office buildings. As a result, the District has Board Policy 1310 (https://www.wcsdpolicy.net/pdf_files/board_policy/1310_Policy-Political_Activity-v3.pdf) in place which prohibits political activity for staff while on duty; importantly our teachers are able to present current events and curriculum pertaining to national issues in a balanced and fair manner. For our students we celebrate their rights to free speech as long as the speech is not profane, obscene, promoting illegal drug use or considered hate speech.
As noted by Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill in the statement issued by the Board of Trustees on May 31, 2020: “As a school district we are working hard to ensure our educational system is based on understanding and acceptance, ensuring that everyone has a place at the table and all voices are valued and cherished. There is still much work to do, but the work will continue and we will be determined in our focus.”
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