As people who work in education, we are called every day to be present for our learners, to lift them up, encourage them, and model for them what it means to be a good citizen. As adults, one of our most important jobs is to be role models for the children who are watching our every move, and that is especially critical in times of disagreement. Civil debate is the foundation of our democracy. We teach our children to recognize the humanity in others, to be respectful of other opinions. We can expect no less of ourselves than we do our children.
If you watched our school board meeting from September 27th, you saw a community divided. Over the past few months, the issue of masking has become a flashpoint not just in our community, but across the country. Last year was a difficult year for everyone and we started this school year with a key focus, keep our kids in school. The district’s Safe Learning Plan, developed using guidance from the CDC, MDH, and Carver County Public Health, was designed with a focus on keeping students in school, minimizing quarantines, and avoiding any distance learning model with an emphasis on keeping our staff, teachers and students safe. Our focus is, and always has been, on supporting our students.
The behavior and conduct on display in our boardroom this week was unacceptable. It is healthy for us to disagree and to seek out more information. It is not okay, and not acceptable, to resort to violence or accuse decision-makers of being Nazis. It will not be tolerated, and on behalf of the Board we want to personally apologize to anyone in the room, or watching at home, that it happened at all. The boardroom will be a safe space for all who wish to speak. Protocols will be enforced and those who do not follow them will be removed. As a result of safety concerns, police presence will be increased at our meetings.
The teachers, staff, and administration of our District are working hard to provide excellent education and resources to all our students every day. Great things are happening every day here in Eastern Carver County. In the wake of this unfortunate display, this is our opportunity to come together and focus on building and supporting our schools, and we invite each of you to do what you can to promote that collective goodwill. Strong schools, equal a strong community, and we are stronger together.
Jeff Ross, Ph.D., School Board Chair
Lisa Sayles-Adams, Superintendent