On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis resident George Floyd died at the hands of police during an arrest. This incident triggered public demonstrations reminding us that we still have a lot of work to do to heal racism and to promote respect and acceptance of all people. As a human being and a person with family members of color, I was appalled by this unthinkable crime. The incident involving Mr. Floyd and other crimes against historically marginalized groups are of great concern to me, and I am committed to addressing systemic racism and discrimination both personally and professionally.
The Kent Intermediate Superintendents Association (KISA), of which I and all public school superintendents in our intermediate school district are members, developed a joint equity statement. In summary, we condemn racism and discrimination in any and all forms and are committed to leading and influencing change. Included in the document are several resources you may find helpful in navigating conversations at home.
I want you to be aware of the continued work and guiding principles of our Rockford Public Schools Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. The committee is comprised of representative members of our staff and community partners who strategically plan and program to ensure that RPS is a safe place for all to learn and work. During the abbreviated 2019-20 school year, the committee organized professional development opportunities for staff in the areas of implicit bias, safe space training, and child trauma. The committee’s mission statement is as follows:
Rockford Public Schools
Rockford Public Schools strives to be an inclusive community for all. Our philosophy is to draw strength from our differences and similarities in order to:
Everyone in the Rockford Public School District has the right to feel respected, safe, and valued.
In March 2020, we surveyed parents, students, and staff as part of our district strategic planning process. Based on survey feedback, we plan to increase our focus on providing an inclusive school climate for the various diverse populations that exist. These include but are not limited to race, culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Now is as critical a time as ever to educate about the value of diversity and inclusion.
It is my sincere hope that this is a pivotal time in history and that we are part of the movement to enact real and meaningful change for a better world.
Dr. Michael Shibler
Superintendent of Schools