On behalf of the Board of School Directors of the Lower Merion School District, I want
everyone to know that we stand with our youth and other community members to demand an
anti-racist agenda be pursued and to declare that Black Lives Matter. We need to eradicate white
supremacy and heteropatriarchy in all of our institutions, but especially our schools, which is
where we have the most power to effect change. This is and will continue to be the goal of this
Board, but we need to do better.
We hired Superintendent Robert Copeland five years ago because of his expertise, commitment,
and experience in implementing anti-racist educational policies and practices. Under his
guidance, we now look at every decision—policy, budget, curriculum, professional development,
hiring—through an equity lens. This is incredibly important. Let me give you a few examples.
Superintendent Copeland had grave concerns about black and brown students experiencing
disproportionality in discipline. He made it a priority to eliminate the disproportionality in how
discipline is meted out by incorporating a focus on restorative justice practices in our schools as
a main pillar of the Achievement Imperative Task Force –the action arm of the Committee on
Race in Education or CARE.
After the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Superintendent Copeland created a task
force to examine how we should increase security in our schools. Unlike many other districts, we
increased security without having armed police officers in our schools every day.
We followed this approach because we did not want to replicate US society’s over-policing of
black and brown students within our buildings.
After yesterday’s march, a student approached me about her concerns with our Police liaison
program in which officers come to each of our schools to meet students. We are certainly willing
to listen to the concerns of students who wish us to reconsider the program.
We also are reevaluating and changing the curriculum, professional development, and hiring
practices through an equity lens in order to eliminate white supremacy in our schools.
And this Board will not redistrict on the back of the Ardmore community. If you don’t know
what I’m talking about you should look at how every redistricting and school closing in this
community going back over 50 years fell on the African-American community. It will never
happen with this Board.
This Board has been vocally supporting equal funding across the Commonwealth because the
way schools are funded perpetuates white supremacy and racism.
Our youth are our leaders. We need to listen to you and we need to do better. We stand united
with you and are humbled to work with you—our young people—to dismantle white supremacy
and ensure Black Lives Matter. Please continue to protest and please join us at our meetings,
write to us at community comments, ensure your new representative agrees with your point of
view, hold us accountable and continue to use your voices to change our schools and our
Submitted: Oct 12, 2020