October 10, 2017
The RISD Council of PTAs continued its district tour last Thursday as J. J. Pearce High School hosted the group’s monthly meeting. Pearce is the second of four RISD high schools being visited this year as the PTA makes its way through each attendance zone. PTA presidents, campus principals and attendees conducted monthly business while also being entertained by talented student groups from Pearce feeder pattern schools.
Next, Dr. Jeannie Stone spoke about the district’s Strategic Plan. In its beginning stages, the plan is designed to guide the direction of Richardson ISD for the next five years. Dr. Stone shared the topics of the six action committees and invited everyone in the community to visit www.risd.org/SP17 to learn more or sign up to participate as a member of a Strategic Action Plan Team.
Dr. Stone’s pride and love of Richardson ISD were made clear Thursday morning during her address, but she also used the time to shine a light on the challenge the district faces in the wake of the racially charged memes that were posted online last week by some students leading up to a football game. Graphic images depicting slavery, racial suppression of the 1960s and other disturbing images were generated to incorporate the logos of both J. J. Pearce and Richardson high schools, and the memes were circulated throughout the community and broadcast as media stories by a number of news outlets. The images, which appeared on the cover of The Dallas Morning News last week, were on the screen as Dr. Stone addressed the crowd.
“While this is the time when I would normally offer my State of the District address, I can’t stand here before you and not speak to last week’s social media events. While I am not going to talk about specific students or specific discipline related to what happened last week, I would like to talk with you about what we are doing as a result of what occurred.”
“We are listening,” Dr. Stone said, “We are listening and we are learning and we are extremely grateful to all who have been sharing with us.” Stone went on to say, “We are also not going to simply conduct a training or hold an assembly. This is too important, and we are currently researching actions that we can take in our school district that will have a longer lasting impact. Racism and the degree of insensitivity that was depicted in those images will not be tolerated or ignored, and we will use it as a learning opportunity for our students and community.” Dr. Stone has asked that the Board of Trustees add this as an agenda item at an upcoming board meeting.
Dr. Stone was joined on the stage by principals from all four high schools, and each shared their feelings about the events that had occurred. Mike Evans, J.J. Pearce principal, spoke about how “heartbroken he was that something like this had happened at his school” and how he, too, has spent the last week “just listening to students, parents, and staff members.” Lake Highlands principal, Dr. Joshua Delich, asked for the audience to stand on their feet as a symbol that we will not stand for racism in our schools and that this is our opportunity to stand strong, together as a community.
Regina Harris, Council of PTA’s 1st Vice President and RHS PTA president, then addressed the audience. She urged those in attendance to be community-focused, saying, “We all must open our ears, our hearts, and our souls to hear each other out and understand our differences because we all have differences. We have to remain strong, we have to remain as a community, working together and sticking together to back our future.”
School Board Trustee, Kim Caston, concluded with remarks emphasizing the RISD belief statement, “We believe that all people have immeasurable value and deserve respect.” She stated that she spoke on behalf of the entire board when she assured the audience that “we would soon move from listening and learning – to action.” .
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