July 19, 2020
Dear Rochambeau Community,
 
While Rochambeau has long celebrated the important role our multi-cultural and multi-lingual student body plays in making our campus one of the most diverse in the country, it is clear from recent events and social media posts that we need to do more to ensure all students at Rochambeau, and students of color in particular, have a safe space to learn, grow and gain the tools needed to succeed. 

The conversations taking place today around race and equity in our streets, cities, society and social media outlets present us with an opportunity to look further at who we are as a school today and who we want to be in the future. We hear and acknowledge the concerns that have been voiced and the experiences that have been shared by students, alumni, parents and others in our larger community and we are united in our desire to create a school that is better, stronger and more inclusive at all levels. There is much to be done and to meet these goals there must be a long-term, multifaceted commitment to change. We hope you will join us in support of this critical effort. As we redouble our efforts to becoming a more inclusive community, I want to inform you of some initial steps that the Governance and Executive Committees of the Board of Trustees have approved and will present to the full Board at its next meeting for ratification. 

First, the Board will redouble its efforts to ensure that the overall makeup of the Board reflects the diverse nature of the school and includes members with a diverse mix of skills, experience and from a wide range of demographics. The Board will specifically commit to recruiting and appointing people of color to the Board to ensure that the diversity of our community is fully represented on the Board of Trustees. As 50% of the seats on the Board are elected by the parents, parents also have a direct opportunity to take action on this important effort as well. To help achieve this, the number of elected Board members will be increased from 12 to 14 with the clear expectation that the two additional members will further broaden the perspectives on the Board and that the expanded Board will better reflect the full demographics of the community. We expect that the process to fill these new seats, one to be appointed by the Board and the other to be elected by the parents, will commence around the start of the 2020-21 school year.

Second, the administration has been directed to report annually on the demographics of staff, teachers and administrators of the school to ensure that the Board and management team have the data needed to ensure transparency and identify opportunities to diversify hiring. 

Finally, we are proposing that the Board establish a Council on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Rochambeau, with the goal of advising on Rochambeau's priorities for diversity and inclusion, measuring our progress, and working closely with members of our community – students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni – to foster a more inclusive school community. The Council will include representatives of our students and staff, parents and alumni, leadership team and the Board of Trustees. While the Council will have broad latitude in setting its agenda, we expect its work will include in-depth analysis and discussion of employment and hiring practices, retention, teacher and student bias training program, protocols for handling complaints or concerns, counseling needs, changes or adjustments in the curriculum, best practices from other institutions and much more. Their initial direction from the Board will be to commence with “listening sessions” to hear from students, faculty and staff about their experiences related to the racial climate on campus as well as to seek recommendations on opportunities for improvement and for changes.
These are just some of the many measures we expect the School to take in the coming months to ensure that every student and every member of our community, regardless of nationality, color, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, feels safe and welcome at Rochambeau. I will continue to update you as we roll out initiatives to follow through on this commitment in the coming weeks, months and years. We know that we must begin this important work today and that many important tasks lie ahead as we recommit to cultivating a multilingual, multicultural learning environment that affirms the benefits that diversity and inclusion bring to all aspects of academic and campus life. 

We welcome your input and look forward to hearing from all community members as we take this critical effort forward together.
Kind regards,
Hélène Fabre, Executive Director
Shared with, and on beh alf of, the Board of Trustees:

  • President: François Legros
  • Vice-President: Carol Piot
  • Treasurer: Michael Warren Kidd
  • Secretary: Laurent Pavageau
  • Caroline Barbeau
  • Nathan George
  • Stephane Guimbert
  • Sam Heitner
  • Satya Menard
  • Jennifer Michael
  • Patrick Parodi
  • Sahar Tabbara Pareja