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SV’s commitment and next steps

Dear Seneca Valley School District Community,

As with any movement, there are layers to creating true and lasting change. We as a nation have entered a critically important time to address the question of “how do we proceed?”

Here at Seneca Valley, while we believe significant progress has been made, we know that we have much work to do when it comes to diversity. We also understand that this is not going to be done with one program, one policy or one letter to the School Community.
 
A vitally important part of this time has been engaging with and listening to the concerns of those in the Seneca Valley School Community. As an educational institution, we teach students civic duty, civil discourse and responsibility, and are proud of the students and alumni who demonstrated these skills in the authentic conversations that have taken place in the past several weeks. We have also engaged with many parents and residents with similar concerns and stories we needed to hear. After carefully listening to impactful words of frustration and heartbreak, we want to once again express our commitment to meaningful change in our schools and our desire to work in partnership with all.

Supporting and Continuing the Discussion

The Seneca Valley Diversity Committee has been in existence for the past 20+ years and the role they have taken to improve the culture within the school environment has been productive. The existing committee – and the affiliate, student-led Seneca Valley Student Diversity Committee – is committed to finding more actionable ways where students, staff and families can raise their voices and truly reform the thinking and actions that are taking place in our schools. We need to be less concerned about comfort levels and more focused on being brave when addressing race.
Our districtwide school leadership team has engaged in the past year with intense training on racial equity and inclusion. Through this effort, we have gained a better understanding of racial engagement strategies. Similar diversity training has taken place with new teacher hires. However, this is just the beginning of our journey.

Deepening our Role in Diversity

Our plan moving forward is to closely examine our policies and K-12 curriculum for implicit bias, prejudice and racism and address all findings. Additionally, we will review the cultural balance in our instructional resources. We will also be looking for gaps in the curriculum regarding Black history, and building more robust and updated resources for students, staff and the community (see below for these important resources).
Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, we also plan to provide comprehensive professional development trainings for staff specific to implicit bias, race and racialized conversations. Many of our training objectives have been and will continue to include assessments of Seneca Valley’s organizational culture.

Please know our commitment to systemic change will continue in all departments as we must provide a welcoming and safe environment for students of color.

We will also continue to work with a diversity consultant to improve our recruitment efforts for teachers of color. We recognize that we must identify biases so that we increase our numbers of racially diverse employees within the District.

Working together, we can make progress and change. We invite you to read many of the resources we are reading or working with today and recommend them to you.

Diversity Resources

We also want to take this time to make note of an upcoming diversity event hosted by the Cranberry Area Diversity Network and the Cranberry Area Council of Churches, in cooperation with Cranberry Township, the Seneca Valley School District and members of the community. “Come Together,” is planned to be a peaceful gathering and time to build unity, understanding, hope for transformation and healing for the community. The event will feature speakers, call-and-response segments, moments of silence and music. The event will be held from 10-11 a.m. on Saturday, June 27 in the rotary amphitheater at Community Park in Cranberry. Please note that masks and social distancing is strongly encouraged.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this important topic. It’s one that will need to be ongoing, courageous and purposeful in order to bring about meaningful change. We welcome all feedback and invite civil discourse and ideas via the Communications email at communications@svsd.net, calling (724) 452-6040, or emailing the School Board email account at schoolboard@svsd.net.


Sincerely,
Seneca Valley Administration
and
Seneca Valley School Board of Directors