Speak Out Against Racism
Under New York State and Federal law, we recognize that all children need and are entitled to an equitable learning environment. However, in Monroe County, segregation of our communities and schools did not happen by accident. Our suburban communities and school districts (including Pittsford Central School District) are significantly shaped by a history of socially engineered segregation that continues to create a climate of overt and systemic racism for Black families. Racism is officially classified as a contributing factor to mental health in children and suicide rates among Black teens have been reported as on the rise in recent years.
On April 23rd 2019, Black parents and allies came forward and expressed the pain and impact of explicit and institutional racism before the Board of Education and Superintendent. This has not been the first time, nor the last that this message has been communicated to the PCSD leadership, as both parents and students have expressed these concerns many times before this date.
PCSD administration and leadership are responsible for addressing this inequity within our schools. Historically, the response to the trauma of racism inflicted on our children has been inadequate and has failed to provide an acceptable level of support to Black families. Prior to May 2019, calls to address racism and inequity have been felt as apathy, denial, avoidance of embarrassment, political posturing, and white privilege.
Pittsford Speak Out Against Racism is a grassroots community created in May 2019 in response to the pattern of racism that Black families reported within the Pittsford Central School District. As concerned families, we pledge to address the needs of our children in PCSD and to hold leaders accountable for the progress needed to mitigate personal, structural, and institutional racism in Pittsford Schools.
On creation, we initiated a community petition, which was signed by 714 individuals. Simultaneously, parent leaders submitted an Op-Ed to address all PCSD administrators and board members. These actions served to raise general public awareness about the racial problems within the district and to announce a list of 12 steps Pittsford schools should take to help all students thrive. To this end, we gratefully acknowledge the pledge to take action made by Superintendent Pero on May 8, 2019.
On May 16, 2019, Pittsford Speak Out Against Racism held a Healing Circle for PCSD High School Students, facilitated by the M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence to bring together students and parents to talk about allegations of racism in the school district. At that time Pittsford Speak Out Against Racism reached out to seek partnership with PTSA and PCSD, which was not embraced. Since this time, supporters have worked to be proactively involved with these organizations in various volunteer capacities.
As of June 2020, what we know to be true, is that our students still face an uphill battle and reports of racial aggression on our campuses persist. We acknowledge the 2019 district community forum, Generation Ready audit and anti-bias staff trainings, Roc2Change event and library audit activities are steps in the right direction. However, since last May, Black students are still experiencing overt and systemic racism at school and many parents still feel excluded from any dialog and planning.
This community group is call for our entire community—families, students, teachers, staff, and administrators—to demand that civil rights be upheld for every child in Pittsford Central School District, and to ensure equitable, hate-free, culturally responsive schools for all.
To this end, we call on PCSD to redouble its efforts to work directly with Black families and all Families of Color to implement actions that will go farther to making our schools safer for our students of color. Pittsford Speak Out Against Racism sets forth a targeted list of tactics that must be addressed as 12 Steps To Help Students Thrive for measures that will improve the quality of life and level of education for students of color and all students in the District.
We are Here for Support
If you, or someone you know, has been the target of racism within the PCSD, we are here to listen, assist, and support.
As members of the PCSD community we love and appreciate the opportunities that Pittsford has to offer, especially the hard working teachers. We believe that public education is best served when the schools, families, and students work together to address challenges, deliberate and hold dialogue, in order to come up with strategies and solutions to make our district even better.
Your experiences and your voices are an integral part of continuing to build on the strong foundation and the continuous improvement of our schools for future generations. Contact us to find out about your rights and options. Our goal is to provide support for families in a confidential and compassionate environment.
For families seeking legislative information or legal advice, please consult the following resources: DASA Support Materials and NYS-Attorney General Office Resources
The need for change bulldozes a road down the center of my mind.—Maya Angelou