District Response to Chauvin Verdict
April 20, 2021
Dear School District of Philadelphia Staff and Community,
This past year has been one of extreme uncertainty for our staff, students, and families in the School District of Philadelphia and the nation at large. As we all deal with the trauma of the pandemic, we cannot ignore the anxiety felt by many as it relates to the Derek Chauvin trial for the death of George Floyd. Unfortunately, this trial does not represent an isolated issue. Each day seems to bring another tragic event that impacts the lives of our students, staff and families.
The release of today’s verdict signals, for many, a turning point in our judicial system — one that can begin to move our nation toward a more just judicial system that holds accountable those who abuse that system to oppress people of color.
Over the coming days, we anticipate an array of emotions, some that may result in demonstrations and celebrations, while others may manifest in conversation and deep reflection. As we all process this verdict, we want to ensure the safety of our staff and students, cultivating brave and safe spaces where individuals can reflect, share, and move to action in a way that is powerful and productive.
I encourage everyone to take the time you need to process. While there may be differences of opinion on the particulars of this case, our commitment as a School District, as outlined in our statement on antiracism, remains central to how we will operate and respond as an organization. We believe strongly in allowing our school leaders and teachers to provide safe spaces for students to express their feelings and engage in important issues, including peacefully and respectfully making their voices heard. In the coming days, we will also share information about a virtual forum to further support our students. For our staff, I encourage every department leader to make time and space for their staff to safely share what they are feeling.
Here are some links to resources to support you as you share and build community:
Resources on Discussing Racism and Police Violence in the Classroom
And here are also some resources for talking to your children about race:
Please remember that counseling and support for employees are available through the SDP Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and for all Philadelphians through the Philly HopeLine by calling or texting 833-PHL-HOPE (833-745-4673). Additionally, you can also share your feelings or thoughts with our Equity Coalition by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we press forward, Iet us do so together, drawing our strength and hope from one another, using the power of the collective to propel us forward. While at times things may seem overwhelming, through collaboration, support, and love we can see a different School District and world for our students — one that honors and celebrates their worth, value, and contributions. I stand with you in this commitment.
William R. Hite Jr., Ed.D.
The School District of Philadelphia