July 2, 2020
Dear LREI Community,
On behalf of the institution, I apologize for actions and inaction that have impacted the experiences of our Black families, students, faculty, and staff, as well as other community members of color, in such painful ways. What follows is our plan to ensure change that will move us towards ending the institutional racism written about on Instagram at Blackatlrei. LREI’s administration chose to follow and to read all that was written without reply. We felt it was important to give the stories time to be told and contemplated before we responded. Throughout, we continued our conversations and continued to craft an outline of the concrete steps we will take in the coming school year and beyond. We know that we must quicken our pace. We must base the speed with which we move ahead on those needs so movingly expressed on Blackatlrei rather than on the needs of those who are least comfortable with, and most in need of, fundamental change.
Acknowledging the reports of systemic racism on this feed, what we share here is our initial plan to address these experiences. Over the course of the summer and into the school year we will continue to add to and to revise the plan outlined below. We are grateful for the input we have received from the high school student government and from our recent graduates. Our plan envisions what we will accomplish this summer, between now and the end of the calendar year, and between now and the end of the school year, June ‘21. Of course, many of the areas we focus on will require attention and efforts lasting well beyond June 2021. Our plans fall into several categories – Governance and Policies, People, and Program – with the understanding that these areas are inextricably linked.
In the coming days, we will invite LREI’s various constituencies to a series of community conversations. We will use these conversations to sharpen our plans. Dates and links for online discussions will be shared soon. Of course, we would rather hold these in person, but that is not possible at this time.
Governance and Policies:
- We will complete a draft of a bias incident policy and of procedures for reporting and resolving incidents of bias. This will be done in consultation with the Board’s Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), the administrative leadership team, and in partnership with the members of the Parents of Children of Color affinity group who have been moving this process forward from the beginning.
- We will work with high school student affinity group members to integrate the bias policy described above with the draft bias reporting policy they created during the last school year.
- We will create an interim path for reporting incidents of bias to be in effect from the first day of school until the policy noted above is adopted.
- LREI’s Board of Trustees’ Committee on Diversity and Community will meet to discuss the administration’s plans and to review the draft of the bias policy.
- The administration will provide progress reports to the CDC and the full Board of Trustees throughout the summer and into next school year.
- We will create additional affinity groups for adults in our community. The current parent affinity groups will continue to meet. We will add required racial affinity groups for faculty and staff, with a white anti-racist learning group providing the opportunity for the white members of our employee community to deepen their understanding of issues of race in the wider LREI community.
- We will organize middle school and high school student affinity spaces, providing clear expectations for student participation and engagement and education for families on why active participation on the part of our white students is essential and will be required.
- The administrative leadership team is participating in a number of training sessions over the summer focused on anti-racist work and anti-racist racial affinity groups.
- Building upon efforts started last year, we will continue to examine our divisional/departmental program for bias and to identify those voices and experiences that are underrepresented in the academic program.
- We will examine policies and procedures to ensure that LREI equitably engages with all families in our 14-year student experience from admissions to college guidance and during the ongoing dialogue between family and school. We must ask ourselves, “Are we expressing the mission of the school, in word and deed, from the moment a family walks into the school for an admissions tour until they leave at graduation?”
Governance and Policies:
- The bias policy, once completed, will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for review. This will happen no later than the Board’s December meeting.
- The Board’s Committee on Diversity and Community and Strategic Planning Task Force will evaluate the administration’s progress against its goals.
- The Board’s Committee on Trustees has prioritized recruiting trustees who better reflect the demographics of the community. Those efforts will continue with purpose.
- Affinity group meetings will begin for students and adults, with training provided for leaders and participants.
- We will engage in conversation with community members of color to discuss and plan for the most effective ways of supporting the health and well being of students and adults of color. These conversations will involve professionals from within and from outside of the community.
- We will reinvigorate implicit bias/micro-aggression/anti-bias training for faculty/staff.
- Implicit bias training for employees will focus in part on ensuring that all students are treated equitably.
- Faculty will engage in conversation and training to deepen their skills in initiating and responding to race, bias, and equity centered comments and conversations.
- Working with the high school student government, we will create ways to support students who choose to engage in protest and will support students in partnering with peers from other schools in these efforts.
- We will continue offering implicit bias/micro-aggression/anti-bias training for families.
- We will continue to host presentations and conversations focused on parenting for anti-racist children in committed, anti-racist families.
- The search for LREI’s next Director of Equity and Community will resume.
- The work of debiasing the curriculum will continue in divisions and in academic departments.
- The high school administration and faculty will continue working on a social justice core requirement.
- Conversations regarding race, equity, and inclusion will be added to classroom and advisory conversations.
- The administration will work with the student governments and divisional faculty to create assembly programs that honor the diverse experiences represented in the LREI community and that will expose the students to a wider world. We will include voices from beyond our immediate community.
Governance and Policies:
- Continuing the process of implementing the racial bias policy and procedures, we will redefine systems used following a reported bias incident and for all discussions of student behavior and begin to include restorative justice practices and associated training for students and teachers.
- We will continue community education to support implementation of the bias policy.
- We will renew our focus on the hiring process, further debiasing each step and more clearly defining what it means to be the “best candidate” for individual positions, all of this in service to hiring more people of color.
- We will outline planning for next steps in anti-racist affinity work and conduct a review of effective methods for ongoing employee training.
- Looking forward to 2021-2022, we will plan for ongoing debiasing/inclusivity reviews in all three divisions and all departments. We will establish an annual process through which this examination and subsequent changes will continue.
Throughout the summer our plans for the first day of school and for growth over the course of the year will become more focused and specific. The administrative leadership team and members of the faculty/staff will continue to meet to address the issues raised through Blackatlrei, those that will surface at our upcoming Community Conversations, and those that have been brought to our attention in the past. The input that we receive through these gatherings and through other groups that convene, will guide our work into the fall and throughout the year.
Our hope and expectation is that each member of the community will engage in this process – one of investigation, learning, and growth and will do so with honesty and humility. This is particularly important for those of us who identify as white. In partnership, LREI’s board, administration, faculty, and staff are entering a new era of accountability to the community. These actions, this accountability, our work, will lead to a better, more fulfilling LREI experience for all and more successful efforts to create an equitable community.
In Peace and Health,