This message was emailed to South Colonie parents/guardians on Tuesday, April 19 at 1:30 p.m.
Dear South Colonie Families,
We are expecting that at some point soon, there will be a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. This is a situation that has garnered national attention and will likely impact children and families in a number of ways. I am simply writing to you in advance of the decision to provide updated links to resources that you might find helpful if you choose to discuss this situation at home and to let you know what our approach at school will be regarding this issue.
Our job is to provide care and to educate. We will provide a safe space for students to discuss their perspectives, reactions, and concerns. We will focus our educational approach on the civic nature of trials, juries, due process, and being thoughtful in hearing one another’s perspectives and concerns. We will encourage students to be understanding of how this situation impacts each person.
In school, this will not be about debate, taking positions or encouraging one perspective over another. Rather, it will be focused on listening, learning from one another, and giving one another space to safely express ourselves. This is an opportunity for continuing an important dialogue and will be very much focused on allowing all students to simply share in a discussion at their developmental level. This will look different in every class and at every level. At the K-6 level, you can expect staff members to have discussions with individual students as needed and to carefully monitor their class to determine the need for greater dialogue. At the 7-12 level, you can expect more class discussions, especially in Social Studies and English classes. We would expect these discussions to happen in the moment and as a reaction to students receiving the information at the same time as staff members, or before, based on their use of technology. Again, we will be focused on creating space for discussion and thoughtful listening. At all levels, you can expect follow-up communication from your child’s teacher if needed and that counselors will be available for students in any way they may need additional support.
If you have any additional concerns, please contact your child’s principal, our Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Mr. Timothy Backus, or myself.
David Perry, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
- Talking to Kids About Fear and Violence (Mental Health America): https://mhanational.org/talking-kids-about-fear-and-violence
- Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network): https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//age_related_reactions_to_traumatic_events.pdf
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/school-violence-resources/talking-to-children-about-violence-tips-for-parents-and-teachers