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An Action Plan for Creating an Anti-Racist Culture at Packer From the Head of School and Board of Trustees

Dear Packer Community,
 
To every individual in this community who has suffered racist speech and actions (or inaction) at Packer: We are deeply sorry for the pain you have experienced from members of the Packer community, including administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents. You should not have suffered these experiences anywhere, especially not in an educational community charged with ensuring your safety and well-being. We appreciate that so many community members had the courage to share their testimonies. The anguish that has been expressed through the Instagram account BlackatPCI, as well as through direct communication with us, has brought our failures into focus among the administration and Board of Trustees.
 
Over the past month, in response to the ongoing national reckoning around race, racial violence, and inequity, we have held many conversations across every constituency — students, families, faculty, staff, alumni, and our Board. 
 
These conversations, which have often been raw and painful, have made it incredibly clear that we have not been doing enough to ensure that all of our students feel seen, heard, and safe as part of our community. We acknowledge in particular the frustration and dismay expressed last week by many of our alumni.
 
The testimonies of our students of color, especially our Black students, clearly show that our existing policies, programs, and practices have not achieved the results we were seeking. Our equity work has not been consistent or universally applied across the school. Members of our community have been suffering, and we have not been holding ourselves accountable.
 
We now recognize that we must actively create and maintain an explicitly anti-racist culture at our school, one that is backed by transparent anti-racist policies and consistent anti-racist practices. We must make it clear that racism in any form is unacceptable in the Packer community.
 
Before we share the following commitments by the Board of Trustees and Head of School, two important notes:
 
One. Responsibility for making Packer an explicitly anti-racist community does not rest on people of color. Nor does it rest solely on the students, faculty, staff, and administrators who have been leaders in Packer’s diversity and equity efforts. To those members of our community who feel that the testimonies of people of color don’t pertain to them and who have not felt called to anti-racist work: This is your responsibility too. In fact, your active participation in these efforts is vital to our forward progress. If you would like to learn more about anti-racism, we recommend this resource, “Being Anti-Racist.” 
 
Two. We must judge ourselves by the actions we take and the experiences of our students. The commitments below will serve as the foundation for a continually evolving process.
 
Immediate Actions (0-3 months)
 
Require active accountability for anti-racist behavior among community members

  • Enforce consistent faculty/staff mandatory reporting of race-based harassment as defined in the employee handbook 
  • Commence investigations of past incidents brought to our attention that involve current students or faculty/staff
  • Continue review of disciplinary procedures and implementation of hate-speech policy in an age-appropriate manner across the school
  • Require students in Grades 5 through 12 to sign a community pledge that will include a commitment to support anti-racist efforts
  • Review with families our existing enrollment contract’s “Expectations of Families” clause, with respect to anti-racist values

Create clear system for reporting race-based harassment with option of anonymity

  • Inform all community members on how to report an incident, and feel safe doing so without retaliation 

Mandate annual anti-racism training for all faculty, staff, and trustees

  • Revisit training quarterly to deepen the learning and improvement
  • Develop anti-racist training program for families 

Develop anti-racist evaluation processes for curriculum and teaching practices

  • Implement anti-racist review protocols for yearly goal setting, evaluation, and improvement planning for all curriculum and teaching practices
  • Train supervisors to coach faculty on developing racially and culturally inclusive classrooms 

Expand resources to support these initiatives

  • Assess the current staffing and resourcing of our Diversity and Equity programs, and engage outside experts
  • Allocate substantial additional funds to ensure the success of these initiatives, and commit resources necessary to support our existing diversity and inclusion programs and offerings
     

Ongoing Actions (3-12 months)

This time frame allows the flexibility that will be required to implement the following actions amid inherent program uncertainties in a pandemic environment. 

Require active accountability for anti-racist behavior among all community members

  • Include in our 2021-22 enrollment contract a specific and explicit commitment by families to uphold the school’s anti-racist efforts

Increase racial diversity of our faculty, staff, and administration 

  • Seek to hire more Black professionals and improve retention of Black faculty and administration
  • Implement metrics to monitor rising (or falling) numbers, with annual reports posted on our website

Increase racial diversity of our student body

  • Increase the number of students of color and improve the retention of students of color, with a focus on Black students
  • Implement metrics to monitor rising (or falling) numbers, with annual reports posted on our website
     

Accountability and Transparency 

Establish an Anti-Racism Advisory Group 

  • Create a group representing all constituencies, including students, parents, alumni, administration, staff, and faculty to work in partnership with the Board and school administration to forward these initiatives

Create a webpage to track the school’s anti-racism efforts

  • Provide updates on programming, community data, and accountability measures


During the second week of August, Dr. Weyburn will write again on progress made on the Immediate Actions listed above. In addition, we will update the community again in fall 2020 and in spring 2021.


Sincerely,

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Jennifer Weyburn
Head of School

 

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Deborah Juantorena
Chair, Board of Trustees

 

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OhSang Kwon
Chair-Elect, Board of Trustees

On behalf of the Board of Trustees (2019-20 and 2020-21)

Susan Abdalla
Geoff Brewer ’82
Alexa Eccles
Steven Fineman
Dawn Fischer
Anthony Guarna
Ronnette Hope ’07
Jamillah Hoy-Rosas ’94
Andrea Kelly
Lisa Lambert
Reed Lowenstein
Anne Marie Lubrano ’87
Meera Marti
Neal McKnight
Barbara Moore
AJ Pires
Hillary Ripley
Evan Roth
Eric Ryan
Jeremy Schiffres ’07
Megan Sheetz
Karen Snow
Mimi Somerby
Richard Story
Marion Worth ’88
Demetrios Yatrakis ’01