February 26, 2017
A message from HPISD Board President Joe Taylor and Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg

Last week, through the help of parents and so many partners who value the importance of literature and reading, our community hosted LitFest, an annual celebration that s eeks to inspire and encourage our students to celebrate language in its artfully written, spoken and sung forms . Our students had a unique opportunity to learn from authors, journalists, poets and writers who provided them with extraordinary access to a variety of perspectives and experiences. Put simply: LitFest is a gem for our community.

Dr. Tom Trigg, HPISD Superintendent As some of you may already know, the keynote speaker at LitFest this year was Jamie Ford, the New York Times best-selling author who wrote Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost. Mr. Ford's experiences growing up informed his first novel, which is about the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans through the eyes of a young Chinese boy who befriends a Japanese-American girl. The period in which he writes is a dark moment in American history, one which still holds important lessons about how American citizens should and should not be treated in this country.

We were, therefore, very disappointed, to read Mr. Ford's account of his experience while speaking to our freshman and sophomore students. Dr. Trigg has already spoken with Mr. Ford to offer his sincere apology in private, but we also want to apologize publicly, on behalf of the Highland Park ISD community, for the unacceptable behavior he encountered during his keynote address. We still have much to learn from this incident and are continuing to examine additional appropriate actions to take as the result of what transpired during the presentation.

On a broader level, it is our sincere hope that we can learn and grow from this experience to be a better, more welcoming--and ultimately, a stronger--school community by putting together a long-term strategy to improve how we address issues of diversity. In addition to striving to provide the finest academic experience that gives our students every opportunity to succeed in their postsecondary experiences and beyond, it is both of our belief that we must teach our students the importance of respecting, valuing and honoring every individual from every background, ethnicity and religious belief.

Mr. Ford's experience at LitFest, while we believe it is not reflective of the entire Highland Park ISD community, still unfortunately tells us that we have work to do. We trust and hope that you will join our efforts in this important work.

Thank you for your continued support of the Highland Park Independent School District.
Joe Taylor, President                                    Dr. Tom Trigg, Superintendent
Highland Park ISD Board of Trustees         Highland Park ISD