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Statement from Orange County Superintendent, Dr. Monique Felder: Commitment to Equity, Excellence and Access

June 2, 2020

Dear Orange County Schools Community--

When I first joined the Orange County Schools family, I made a commitment to our school district: we would focus on equity, excellence and access for all students. Our work is essential for creating safe, welcoming, inclusive and supportive environments where all children can reach their full potential. 

Today, part of that commitment is acknowledging and denouncing the racism and racial injustice we see and experience in our country. These past few weeks, all we’ve had to do is turn on the TV to see yet another story of discrimination and sensless death. We’ve learned George Floyd’s name, Breonna Taylor’s name and Ahmaud Arbery’s name for all the wrong reasons. 

As a mom of three and a grandmother of five, as a former teacher and principal, as a black woman myself, I understand how scary this time has been. I understand the anger, the frustration, the pain. And it breaks my heart. 

I want to make a promise to you right now. We will not stand silently while such tragedies occur. 

It is our job as leaders (we are all leaders regardless of our role) and as a district to acknowledge the hate we’re seeing, to denounce it and to give our students the safe space they need to work through the trauma.

All children, yes--but our work is especially important in supporting our black and brown boys who see these savage acts through a lens of horror, fear and sadness. 

Our district will not tolerate our students feeling unsafe in their own skin. Every single one of our students deserves a future untainted by the byproducts of racial injustice. As a school district, it is essential that we help secure this future for our students. 

Now, more than ever before, we have to be committed to equity, excellence and access--and to a school district where all means ALL.

So I want to reaffirm our commitment to you. Our schools and our classrooms serve as gathering places for students from all races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities and identities. Their very diversity is the power and strength of our district and of our community. How they learn will determine the future of Orange County, North Carolina, the country and the world. What we do as those entrusted to care for and educate our students matters. And we do not take this responsibility lightly.

I know that by taking steps toward equity every day, we can ensure our students feel safe and supported. We can begin building the world we WANT our children to grow up in, together. 

In solidarity, 

Dr. Monique Felder

Statement from the Orange County Board of Education: Commitment to Equity, Excellence and Access

June 2, 2020

Dear Orange County Schools Community, 

Every member of the Orange County Schools Board of Education wants to make a positive difference, and all of us share a unified goal: ensuring our students--EVERY student--feels safe, supported and welcomed in our district.

It has been with heavy hearts that we watch the unfolding racial crisis in our country. We cannot be silent as we see the systemic racism and violence that is ravaging our communities.  

As the Orange County School Board, we condemn the senseless killings happening in our country.  We share your grief and outrage when we witness what happens to the George Floyds, the Breonna Taylors, the Ahmaud Arberys. Because it’s not just those three names. The list is painfully long--years too long.  These acts have focused our nation on the longstanding historical injustices that have plagued our nation since its founding. As leaders and as those charged with supporting and guiding the development of our children's future, we cannot be silent.  We vow to stand together as one voice, side by side as we fight the horror of systemic racism and deep-seethed inequities.  It is our moral imperative to do so.

We will not stand for inequity of any kind in our schools or our community. 

That’s why we will continue and intensify our commitment to equity, excellence, and access ensuring we are  building a school system where all truly means all. This means we will continue to build a culturally proficient staff who are able to provide the education, support, and guidance our students deserve. We will continue our work with community groups and coalitions to ensure that our policies, practices and procedures are equitable. We will continue our restorative justice work, ensuring that schools are healthy learning communities where members understand and embrace mutual responsibility and fairness.

We are committed to taking action in our district. 

Our classrooms serve as gathering places for students from all races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities and identities.  Their very diversity is the strength of our community.  How they learn together will determine the future of Orange County, the country, and the world. Our goal is for every single student--no matter what their race, their ethnicity, their religion, their background, their belief or their orientation--knows they can go to school every day, safe, supported and loved. Equity is a work in progress, and we will do everything in our power to continue this critical work.  

Orange County Board of Education

Mr. Will Atherton, Board Chair

Mr. Tony McKnight, Board Vice-Chair

Dr. Stephen H. Halkiotis, Board Member

Ms. Hillary MacKenzie, Board Member

Mr. Matthew Roberts, Board Member

Ms. Sarah Smylie, Board Member

Ms. Brenda Stephens, Board Member