In the wake of the tragic death of George Floyd, it is clear that our nation is in turmoil and our communities are hurting. And yet, I find reason to be hopeful. We are in an important moment in our nation’s history when people of all races and ethnicities are standing together hand in hand demanding change. I am hopeful that we have at last embraced the concept that we are all responsible for each other.
In this environment of pain, anger and confusion, I want to send a clear message to our employees, students and their families, and our entire community. I am proud to call Pasco County my home, and I will continue to stand up for our community every chance I get. I am proud to lead our school district. Yet, I know that our community and our school district can and must do better. My words – our words – must be backed up by action.
As the superintendent of schools and the largest employer in Pasco County, I feel I have a responsibility to address the issues that have left our nation in chaos and to propose solutions. As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Our educational system can be the driver that eliminates inequalities, creates responsible citizens, and fosters positive relationships within our community.
Making a difference is never an easy task and the path ahead is fraught with complexity. I believe that educators have a moral imperative to lead by example. We must make it clear that we will not tolerate any child or employee being ridiculed or mistreated because of the color of their skin, ethnicity, the sound of their name, or their unique qualities and differences.
That’s why I am creating a District Equity Team to examine the factors that contribute to inequitable outcomes, and to propose solutions. I will direct this Team to take the following actions:
1. Identify biases and behaviors that prevent consistent equitable, fair and respectful practices;
2. Leverage relationships with national external partners to engage in improvement methods for equity;
3. Set goals for achieving improved outcomes within our District Success Plan to address our equity challenges and measure the impact of our work;
4. Provide equity focused professional learning to all stakeholders focused on deepening trust, developing diverse leaders, and building capacity for change.
Fulfilling these commitments and finding solutions will be a challenge. I cannot accomplish this task alone. I ask all of you to work with me to make a difference in our community – Pasco County.
Superintendent of Pasco County Schools