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Creating a Safe and Welcoming Community

In our schools, we focus on creating a positive learning environment—one in which all students feel like they are part of our community, free from bullying, harassment or fear.

Our students play an active role in creating a culture of learning. When they are kind, welcoming and collaborative, they lift each other up. If they choose to tease, bully or engage in name-calling, they tear each other down. When they cross a line and use  their words to hurt, diminish or demean others, it becomes a problem and interferes with learning. No student has a right to get in the way of another person’s learning.

I’m writing today because we have seen an uptick in hurtful language, slurs and hate speech. We are asking for your help. We are asking families to have conversations with their students about appropriate and inappropriate language in schools and in society.

Our students may hear language through social media, song lyrics, YouTube videos, or television that will not be tolerated in our schools. When students bring that language into schools, they find themselves facing disciplinary action for bullying, harassment, or using racial slurs. The N-word, the R-word and other slurs will not be tolerated.

We believe slurs and hate speech are forms of verbal violence. A “slur” may include epithets, threats, verbal abuse, use of profanity or derogatory comments regarding another’s identity based on ethnicity, national origin, immigrant status, religion, disability or gender.  To reiterate, there is no place for any type of slur or hate speech in our schools and it will not be tolerated.

Adults have figured out there are words you never say in some settings. For example, you don’t say the word ‘bomb’ on an airplane. TSA won’t care if you are joking; you will be cuffed and taken off the plane. The N-word is never appropriate in modern society. Further, there are some things you never say in school. It is never OK to joke about guns, weapons, or “shooting” in school. Likewise, it is never acceptable to use racial slurs, homophobic comments, or any derogatory language. 

We are committed to a safe and respectful school environment - one that is free of racism and any form of discrimination. We want to teach our students to know, ‘I better not say that.’ And to speak up and say, ‘That’s just not cool.’”

Our mission is to develop in EVERY learner the ability to succeed in an ever-changing world. And EVERY means each student. We value, respect, and celebrate diversity and are honored to serve each and every student and family.  We want our schools and our community to be places where all of our students feel safe and WANT to be.   

Let’s work together to make our community and our schools safe, welcoming and supportive of everyone’s right to the American dream. Combating racism and discrimination will take a collaborative effort with members of the school district working with families and the community to address the root causes of prejudice, bias, and discrimination. Together, we can uphold the values of the school district and community at large, and we call on the Princeton community to continue to work together to create an environment where all people feel valued and included and an environment where people not only feel they belong but where they would also want to live.

If you have any questions about expectations for behavior in our school, please review our Student Handbook or contact my office. I’d be happy to discuss this further.

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