SMSD News: Letter to the community

To the Shawnee Mission Community,

We are facing a challenge that tests our character. Across the country and our community, there is deep pain over the killing of George Floyd. We are seeing an outcry of grief and anger as our neighbors and families gather to speak out against injustice. Sadly, this and other recent events serve as stark reminders that we still have much work to do to address systemic racism, inequities, and disparities that exist in our country.

Why do these unjustified acts of atrocity continue to happen? That question and many others weigh heavily on our hearts. Similar incidents have happened repeatedly across the country, and many of our students and families are experiencing these events as repeated and on-going trauma. This is not who we aspire to be, these are not the values we profess, and we must all figure out together how to make these killings stop. It won’t be easy; we have a lot of history and pain to overcome.

Our community highlighted the importance of addressing equity in our strategic plan and provided specific direction for actions that need to be taken. Putting the plan into action, we are training every staff member in cultural proficiency. We will continue our work to hire a more diverse workforce, including our “grow our own” initiative to help train the next generation of educators from within our diverse student body. We will also continue to publicly report our data, so that together we can monitor our progress on ensuring that each student has a personalized learning plan that prepares them to be college and career ready, with the personal skills they need for life success.

Part of systemic racism is the promotion of a narrative that some children are more capable than others, and that a child’s abilities correlates with the color of their skin. Often, that belief is not a conscious one, but historically, it has been implicit in structures and actions. However, going forward, it is critical that our attitudes and actions provide hope and opportunity for every child.

At SMSD we are committed to making our world a better place for each and every student. We will be relentless in pursuit of our District’s mission, to ensure students can construct a foundation of success that is distinguished by an inclusive culture, an engaged community, and robust opportunities to challenge learners to achieve their full potential. Striving to fulfill this promise to each and every student must always be our goal.

We appreciate the partnership we have with our families and community in Shawnee Mission. The work in front of us is important, and together, we can make a difference. Thank you for being a great community that cares about each and every child.

Dr. Mike Fulton, Superintendent
Heather Ousley, President, SMSD Board of Education
Mary Sinclair, Vice-President
Jamie Borgman
Sara Goodburn
Laura Guy
Jessica Hembree
Brad Stratton