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In the fall of 2021, the Monroe Equity Council was contacted by the student leaders of the Monroe Inclusion Collective.  This is what they told us about their experiences with racism and homophobia in their years in Monroe School District:

Follow the MIC on IG for more info.

 
Monroe Inclusiveness and Anti-Racism/Hate Speech Survey Results
During the past summer, we sought to diagnose the problems of racism and hate speech within the Monroe School District community. To do this, we developed the Monroe Inclusiveness and Anti-Racism/Hate Speech Survey, available to all students of our district, current and past. The community's response was astounding. We now aim to present these findings to district administrators to push for necessary improvements to the school environment in Monroe, in the goal that every student is able to thrive in a safe and inclusive learning community.
Question: Have you experienced any racism or other types of hate speech within the Monroe High School or Monroe School District community in any form?

87 total responses: 
Racism 56.3%, 
Ableism 21.8%,
Anti-LGBTQ+ 58.6%,
Sexism 59.8%,
Xenophobia 25.3%,
Anti-Semitism 11.5%,
Not experienced 10.3%.
Question: Have you reported this to school personnel? 

82.7% said no, only 17.3% said yes.

When asked why it was not reported recurring responses included: didn't know who to talk to, lack of representation in staff, history of staff inaction and empty words towards hate speech, normalized racism and hate speech, did not trust staff enough to do anything helpful.
For those who did report, when asked about satisfaction with the outcome of reporting hate speech, and whether they felt safe afterwards, 80% said no. Recurring responses included that they reported it and nothing happened, or not enough was done, so they stopped reporting after that. Others felt like if they reported it, conditions would get worse from offenders, either from prior experience or fear. Also that they felt shamed by the admin when they had reported it.
In general, how are your experiences with the SRO (police officer on campus)? 

48.3% are neutral.
17.2% were unsure.
13.8% reported good.
8% said excellent.
6.9% said not good.
5.7% said very bad.

When asked how Monroe High School can better allow students to feel safer and welcome in the present of the SRO, recurring responses included: interaction time with the SRO, getting to personally know each other, and requiring SROs to pass bias/diversity/anti-racism trainings.
How can Monroe High School and Monroe School District make reporting racism and expecting accountability for results more comforting and useful to Black students, Indigenous students, and students of color?

Solutions include: 
Creating a specific racism reporting form of hotline answered by designated anti-racism staff, more discipline to racist student/staff abusers, having a resource and assistance platform for students regarding these issues, having offenders go through mandatory educational training on racism and its impacts, and allowing opportunities for students to explain their experiences.
How can Monroe High School and Monroe School District make reporting other various types of hate speech (homophobia, transphobia, sexism, antisemitism, ableism, xenophobia) and expecting accountability for results more comforting and useful to students. 

Solutions include: Creating a specific hate speech reporting form or hotline, more discipline to student/staff engaging in hate speech, have a resource and assistance platform for students regarding these issues, having offenders go through mandatory education training on hate speech and it's impacts, and allowing opportunities for students to explain their experiences.
Take aways: We developed this survey to not only diagnose long-standing problems of racism and hate speech in the Monroe School District community, but also to find effective solutions to constructively heal these problems. And so, though we are saddened by the presence of these issues in our community, we are hopeful in knowing that healing is possible. Like many things however, healing takes work. What we as a community do next determines whether or not we will heal.
What's Next?
These survey findings caused us to form the Monroe Inclusiveness Collective (MIC), a non-school affiliated youth organization dedicated to improving our community. MIC plans to present these findings and propose these constructive solutions to Monroe School District administrators. We also have plans coming soon to heal these problems outside of the school, such as community education, and accessible activism. Get involved in the change by signing up on linktr.ee/inclusive.monroe

Following MIC's presentation to the Monroe School Board, members of the community began reaching out to MEC with stories of racism, homophobia, and harm that had been occurring and being ignored for years under the leadership and policy makers at all levels of administration. 

 

On December 1, 2021 the Monroe Equity Council hosted a panel of current and former Monroe School District families to discuss the ongoing racism in Monroe schools.

 

We extend profound gratitude to the families who participated. They have experienced deep harm and pain and yet they showed up to continue working to build a safe, inclusive, and anti-racist community not just for their kids but for all kids and staff members.

 

If you missed the meeting please take the time to listen.

 

What we heard was heartbreaking and we have spent the following years working to uncover and address systemic biases, advocate for those who don't have a voice, and disrupt systems of harm which only serve the status quo in public education.

Letters and comments to the Monroe Public School Board of Directors

On December 13, 2021 the Monroe Equity Council calls for the resignation of Superintendent Justin Blasko after a pattern of a culture of fear, abuse, indifference, and distrust, and inaction.

 

On November 22, 2021, the Monroe Equity Council gave a public comment at the school board meeting addressing the recent racial aggression and harassment that occurred at Monroe High School and the ongoing failure to act on racism, bullying, and harassment in Monroe School District.

 

On September 13, 2021, the Monroe Equity Council gave a public comment at the school board meeting in response to the Board's failure to address homophobic comments made in the August 23, 2021 board meeting.

In addition, MEC addressed abuse of power, improper political discussion, and non-inclusive behavior and language demonstrated by board members in that same meeting.

 

On May 16, 2021, the Monroe Equity Council sent a letter to the Monroe School District Board of Directors and Superintendent Justin J. Blasko with respect to a number of questions related to our mission to create a safe and inclusive community in which all voices are heard and all people have the ability to access the same opportunities.

Our mission extends to the safety, well-being and equity of the faculty, staff, students and families in Monroe schools. We asked for a response to this letter by May 31, 2021.

As of today, June 7, 2021 we have not received a response.

We encourage you to take the following actions:

1. Attend the June 14th school board meeting indicating your support of the information requested and ask that the Board and Dr. Blasko be accountable to the community by complying with the request for a written response.

2. Send a written statement to the Board and Dr. Blasko indicating your support of the information requested and ask that the Board and Dr. Blasko be accountable to the community by complying with the request for a written response.

The Monroe Equity Council works to create a safe and inclusive community in which all voices are heard and all people have the ability to access the same opportunities. We do this by ensuring underserved community members and groups have the opportunities for their voices to be heard and encourage local organizations to create working partnerships with underserved community members and groups.

We have listened to and heard the concerns of our BIPOC, LGBTQ+, disabled students, their families and the teachers/staff that support them. And we share these concerns.

To that end we sent a letter to the Monroe District School Board and Superintendent Dr. Justin Blasko.

We asked for a written response by May 31, 2021.

 

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