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Greendale School District responds to 'inappropriate and racially charged' video

Posted at 2:19 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 18:17:28-05

GREENDALE — A Greendale School District student allegedly used "inappropriate and racially charged language" in a video that has since been shared on social media across the region, the school district acknowledged Monday.

The incident, which the school district says did not happen on school grounds, shows the student using racial slurs.

The school district said it is "building practices and policies" that celebrate Greendale's diversity and that it "investigates all matters brought to our attention."

Here is the full statement from Superintendent Gary Kiltz:

February 22, 2019

Dear Greendale Schools Families:

Strong public schools and a high quality of life make Greendale an attractive place for young families to live. Greendale Schools is welcoming more and more students from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. With this increasing diversity, we are working as schools and community to ensure Greendale sees this shift as a strength that provides opportunities to understand new perspectives and discover the similarities we all share.

Unfortunately, we have learned this week of two instances of students using inappropriate and racially charged language. While these matters did not take place on school grounds or during the school day, we have an obligation to make sure that our students feel physically and emotionally safe in our schools. Greendale Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of all students. District administration takes every student, family, and staff concern seriously and investigates all matters brought to our attention. The use of hate speech and harassment has no place in our schools or community.

Greendale Schools' administration is taking proactive steps to build practices and policies that celebrate and appreciate Greendale's diversity. The Greendale School Board has been involved in book studies and regional conversations about equity. Staff are receiving ongoing professional development regarding culturally responsive practices. This includes how to respond to bias, discrimination, and racism.

Greendale Schools is organizing a community leadership workshop in April with leaders from churches, government, schools, businesses, and community organizations to explore our individual and collective roles in creating an environment of belonging and support for our families. We are also planning a community forum in May with a listening session as a first step in working with community members to generate solutions to make our community a safe place to work, play and learn for all Greendale families.

Our middle and high school students are working to create a more positive climate for all students. High school student leaders are launching a survey of students, staff and the community this spring to get feedback on three possible improvement areas: appreciation of diversity, creating a stronger sense of belonging, and more effective communication. Based on the survey results, they will develop solutions and action steps to meet the needs of our students, families, and community. Please watch for and complete the survey when it is shared. I am excited by the work and inspired by the students' commitment.

I look forward to working with the community to make Greendale a great place for all families.

We are inspiring minds!

Gary Kiltz, Ph.D