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Burlington superintendent apologizes for response to BLM curriculum

Posted at 5:21 AM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 06:21:43-04

BURLINGTON  — The Burlington Area School District superintendent has apologized for his response to parents concerned about a Black Lives Matter curriculum.

In a letter addressed to the community Friday, Superintendent Steve Plank wrote he was sorry for offending families of color when he originally wrote educators should aim to teach with a "neutral perspective" when discussing movements.

"Upon significant reflection, I see how my perspective was offensive and understand that there is no neutrality when pursuing equity," Plank wrote.

Plank went on to write, "Valuing the lives of people of color is a basic human right and should not be treated as political or religious, just as valuing the lives of white people isn't treated as being political or religious."

Last week, dozens of people turned out to a school board meeting to show their support or opposition to the teacher. The district said a 4th-grade teacher at Cooper Elementary School shared Black Lives Matter resource material with her students after they started asking questions about unrest in Kenosha.

Now, the district says police are investigating after words written with wood chips and minor property damage was discovered at the playground at Cooper Elementary last week. A spokesperson for the district says no students were harmed.

In Friday's letter, Plank wrote all threats to his staff and the community must stop.

"Such behaviors will not be tolerated. We value our staff and feel honored to have people on our team who understand the importance of teaching a diverse education that invites broad student perspectives," Plank wrote.

Now, the district is working with the Burlington Police Department, the National Equity Project, and the Burlington Coalition to Dismantle Racism going forward.

"What I'd like to see the school district do, and I know they were already working on this, but I'd like to see them do it a lot quicker is adopt a new curriculum that's more equitable, and I'd also like to see them adopt an anti-racism policy, which they were already working on both of those things," said Darnisha Garbade, the president of the Burlington Coalition to Dismantle Racism.

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