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Important message from Dr. Monique Felder, OCS Superintendent

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May 16, 2022

Dear Orange County  Schools’ Staff & Community, 

I was devastated this weekend as I heard the news of another violent hate crime in our country – this time in Buffalo, New York. 

I read about Pearly Young, a devout mother and grandmother who ran a weekly food pantry. About Heyward Patterson, who had a huge heart and drove community members to the store to get groceries. About Aaron Salter, the recently retired security guard who tried to stop the rampage and sacrificed his life for those in the store. 

10 people were killed. 3 were injured. 11 of these 13 victims were Black. 

My heart broke for the victims, for their families and for their loved ones – but also for every child in our country hearing about this tragedy. For our youngest children who don’t quite understand why someone would take a life – or even what that means. For the families finding a way to explain what is happening and why to their children. For our older children who understand hatred all too well, and have learned to fear. 

The news calls it racially motivated violent extremism. To me, that type of extremism starts with allowing hatred to thrive and encouraging racism in communities. 

It is our job as leaders 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.

As we’ve done before, I want to reaffirm our commitment to you. 

Our schools and our classrooms serve as safe, inclusive gathering places for students and staff from all races, ethnicities, religions, nationalities, languages, and identities. We do not accept hate. We do not tolerate racism. We will not sit quietly as our students learn to be scared to go to a grocery store or for a run. We continue to support our staff in implementing  the OCS Board of Education’s Policy 1030: Equity in Education (link) and the OCS Board of Education’s Equity Resolution (link).

Our diversity empowers our district and our community. 

How our students 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 children matters. 

And we do not take this responsibility lightly. We’ll continue taking steps toward equity--which is defined in Orange County Schools as ensuring all students have what they need to succeed--every day. We will build the world we WANT our children to grow up in, together – without hate – so that every child has the opportunity to reach their maximum potential. 

Our counselors and social workers along with the rest of our staff continue to make ourselves available should our students and staff need additional support during this challenging time.

To help make sense of what our country is experiencing right now, the following resources are being provided again in support of students and families:

If you, your child or family need additional support or resources, please do not hesitate to contact your school’s principal or counselor. Additionally, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me during this difficult time. 

In service for children, 

Dr. Monique Felder