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On The Issues: October 30, 2019

On The Issues: Respect and Civility
Posted on 10/30/2019
Snow falls on the Jeffco Public Schools Ed CenterDear Jeffco Community,

October snowstorms are unusual, even in Colorado, but I do hope that you take a moment to enjoy and appreciate the majesty and beauty that the coming of winter brings. 

As you know, Jeffco Public Schools enacted a two-hour delay schedule today, a relatively new procedure for us, as the district did not previously have this as an option. There will be things we will learn from this experience today and we will evaluate how to make our two-hour delayed start more efficient when we need it in the future. Based on the reports I have received from numerous schools and my own experiences this morning, the two-hour delay was successful and ultimately the right decision for our community. I appreciate our staff, parents, and students for your part in making that happen.

Weather-related decisions elicit all sorts of opinions about what the schools should or should not do based on the conditions. Delay or cancellation decisions are judgment calls and I respect that others would have made a different choice. But, this is not the issue that I wish to address with you today.

To be direct, some of the behaviors and statements made by both adults and students in our community in reaction to these weather decisions was nothing short of abhorrent and disgusting. I am both disappointed in what I saw, and ashamed of it as a representation of our community.

People called our offices and schools and were abusive to our staff, including vulgar name-calling and even threats. Cruel statements and memes were created and repeatedly shared on our district social media channels, debasing our very humanity and trumpeting the very worst parts of ourselves. Mass bullying behaviors built on ageism, sexism, racism, and personal identity were normalized and even celebrated online.

Is this who we really are? Is it who we wish to be?

Perhaps it is a reflection of our present culture and civic state that such behavior is seen as acceptable. I love this community and this country, and I say, enough. I do not believe I am alone.

Jeffco Public Schools has an obligation to teach our young people to be the very best versions of themselves, and to create a world where our children’s futures are better than our present. Our organization lifts up and highlights “Civic and Global Engagement,” where students are encouraged to take an active and participatory role as citizens. We also lift up “Personal Responsibility,” where we teach our students about individual accountability for their actions.

Making your voice heard in protest of some process, policy, or decision is a treasured right touching on our most sacred American values and we should safeguard and preserve these. But when these turn to vulgar personal attacks, bullying based on some real or perceived trait, defamation of a person’s character, or threats of violence - we tear apart the basic fabric of our humanity and create a much uglier, disconnected, and sad world. There is a difference between what we can do, and what we should do.

Please be advised that calls to our schools and offices that are abusive to our staff will be hung up on. Statements made on our social media pages which violate our social media guidelines will be removed. Students who make statements or send messages that violate the student code of conduct will be disciplined. Any individual who makes threats or implies violence will be referred to law enforcement for investigation and possible prosecution. 

I also call upon the “better angels” within all of us, to be aware of our own statements and actions. We can also call out others when lines are crossed and we can all act as a positive force against statements intended to harm or debase others. This is also part of our civic responsibility. 

On the other side of our emails, phone calls, messages, texts, tweets, posts and comments are human beings - mothers and fathers, parents, children, sisters, brothers, friends, and neighbors. 

We are better than this, Jeffco.

With respect,

Dr. Jason Glass signature

Jason E. Glass, Ed.D.
Superintendent & Chief Learner

Jeffco students, parents, families, staff, and community members may engage with Superintendent Dr. Glass via Twitter - @COJasonGlass - and through his blog

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