Board of Trustees Minute on Racial Justice

Dear Friends, 

On July 21, 2020, the Sidwell Friends Board of Trustees adopted the following Minute on Racial Justice. 

Ongoing police brutality against Black Americans and recent demonstrations have once again revealed that racism is woven deeply into our consciousness, society, and institutions, including Sidwell Friends School, from which the Board of Trustees banned the admission of Black students until 1956. This white supremacist policy effectively repudiated our most cherished Quaker belief that there is that of the divine in each person.

Despite efforts to create an equitable and inclusive institution, we understand that we as a community have not fully lived up to this basic principle. Our Black alumni and students have shared painful stories of not being treated equally or with dignity. We apologize for the harm that has been done. We further commit to identifying and addressing all forms of  racism and prejudice in our community, particularly anti-Black racism. Simply put, Black Lives Matter.

Without further deliberation, we join with the Administration to take clear and purposeful steps to build a compassionate and anti-racist community.  Trustees commit unequivocally to supporting and unite with the Administration in expediting the implementation of key equity initiatives included in the Strategic Plan. In addition, Trustees expect the Administration to submit a new Equity, Justice and Community Action Plan (EJC Action Plan) to the Board in the Fall of 2020.  This Plan will build upon the strategic initiatives enumerated below and respond to conversations currently taking place with students, alumni, parents, faculty, and staff.  Together, the Board and Administration will:

1. Ensure that the EJC Action Plan assesses school climate, includes a plan of action for implementing programming, and establishes clear benchmarks for measuring the School’s progress toward creating a just and equitable environment for all students and community members.  

2. Provide resources and structures to enhance and continue current professional development initiatives for all employees to include but not be limited to:

  • the requirement for new faculty and staff to complete an intensive, introspective diversity and equity seminar within the first two years of employment.
     
  • the requirement that all employees complete training in equity instruction on a yearly basis, and that the evaluation process assesses an individual’s proficiency in teaching and working effectively with students from all backgrounds.
     
  • the development and implementation of enhanced equity training to increase competencies in differentiated instruction, culturally responsive pedagogy, anti-racist and inclusive teaching, curriculum development, and leadership.

3. Require the examination and appropriate modification of placement and departmental policies that may cause harm or be susceptible to implicit bias.

4. Require implementation of further student-centered, age-appropriate, anti-bias, anti-racist co-curricula and programming.

5. Prioritize the establishment of three separate endowments to fund the following positions: the Director of Equity, Justice, and Community; the Faculty Chair in African and African American Studies; and the Supervia Chair in Spanish and Latin American Studies.

6. Continue efforts to attract and retain a diverse faculty and staff, reflective of our student body.

7. Create a Center for Ethical Leadership that will provide programming and leadership opportunities for students to frame and explore ethics in the Quaker tradition, develop capacities for bringing sound ethical decision-making practices to all aspects of their lives and engage in questions of social justice within and outside the School.

Furthermore, the Trustees commit to:

8. Encouraging the Administration’s efforts to build partnerships with local institutions that support social justice and provide opportunities for students to address systemic racism.

9. Recruiting Trustees who will enable the School to meet this mission.

We share this call to action with determination and humility. Our work is challenging, and we are confident that the Administration and faculty will make meaningful and lasting change for our students and community. Our call for swift and meaningful action is rooted in Quaker values that inform the academic strengths of the School and shape our commitments to peace, community, integrity, and stewardship. Guided by the light of justice, we will move forward seeking truth.

Board of Trustees
Sidwell Friends School
July 21, 2020

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