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Listening Session Update & Online Input Opportunity

February 20, 2020
February 19th Listening Session at Pleasant Ridge Elementary

SAS Community,

Thank you to those of you who came out to our first listening session on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Pleasant Ridge on February 19th. It was extremely valuable to watch a community share their experiences, thoughts and ideas about racism and the ways it has impacted students in the school district. If you were unable to make it to the last session at Pleasant Ridge, there are 4 other upcoming listening session opportunities:

Thursday, February 27th –  6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Saline Middle School Hot Spot 

Friday, February 28th – 12 – 1:30 p.m., Liberty School Board Room  

Saturday, February 29th – 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., Saline Senior Center (located behind Saline Middle School)

Wednesday, March 4th –  6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Harvest Elementary 

In addition, we have created an online survey form, associated with the work the District is doing with the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, that asks about your experiences with inclusion in the Saline Area Schools.

Please consider providing input in this survey:Online Listening Session- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We’ve got a lot of work to do to make our school district a more inclusive setting in which ALL our students can thrive. However, I am confident, with the support of our students, teachers, support staff, administrators and community members, that  we are moving towards a sustainable model of inclusion in the Saline Area Schools.

Scot Graden

Superintendent

Listening, Learning…. and then Growing.

February 19, 2020

When working on issues of equity, we must listen with intention. Taking the time to listen to learn is critical. However, just hearing the concerns is rarely sufficient. Listening and learning are, quite literally, the least we can do. As families and students have shared what they need from the school and its administration, we have responded by listening.  That listening is appropriate and a needed first step.

Over the past few weeks, I have listened more genuinely than ever before. I have learned, and honestly, I have felt overwhelmed. These conversations have left me with more questions than answers. I have been spurred to want to know more, hear more voices, and seek positive solutions.  

 Over the next two weeks, Saline Area Schools will hold 5 Listening Sessions. I, along with other district administrators, hope that many different voices will present their experiences and their stories. We invite you to attend, or if you’re unable to do so, to share your thoughts digitally.  We have created a form for this purpose that will be shared at the first session.

We anticipate learning a great deal from these sessions, from the other groups with whom we have met, from the students, and from each other.  However, learning requires passive participation and exposure. The matter of creating inclusive spaces involves action. We can learn, but more importantly, we also need to act upon those concerns and grow.

Growth is active. This work is difficult but intentional.  Growth means opening up the collective and stereotypical mindset to opportunities for action. Growth means hearing painful realities, harsh feedback, and embracing the urgency to improve.  Growth means recognizing our shortcomings and seizing the opportunities to improve until we get it right. We welcome the challenge.

Statement from Saline Area Schools

February 4, 2020

Saline Area Schools Families & Staff,

Hate, prejudice, and racism have no place in our schools or our community.  

Yesterday, February 3rd, an individual in the Saline community made racist remarks at a forum directed at one of the parents in our community. This type of bigotry goes against all of the values and beliefs of our school system.

The Saline Board of Education and administration take the issue of student and adult behavior seriously.  We are striving to ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all students and families, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or any other identity.


We have heard from and are listening to students, parents, and community members throughout the District.  We will continue to listen as we move forward and establish additional actions to support our students.

Over the past several years, we have established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, worked with our local intermediate school district to train teachers and administrators on social justice practices, and taken a number of steps to support a more culturally inclusive curriculum in our school district. However, it’s very clear that there is a great deal of additional work that we need to do to educate our students, staff, and community on the painful impact that racism has on our society.

This is an opportunity for us – the staff, students, and community of Saline Area Schools – to stand for anti-racism, respect, and inclusion of all students.

Scot Graden

Superintendent

Saline Area Schools

Community Conversation – February 12th

February 1, 2020

We will be hosting “Community Conversation” meeting on Wednesday, February 12th. Over the last twelve years I have had the opportunity to host numerous “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.

There are a lot of issues we can discuss, however, based on recent events I would like talk about the issue of diversity, equity & inclusion as it relates to our community and Saline Area Schools.  What role do we play as a school district?  What role should we play?

In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Wednesday, February 12th from 6:30pm- 8:00pm at Liberty School7265 N. Ann Arbor St. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.

If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you,
Scot Graden

Community Conversation – February 3rd

January 28, 2020

We will be hosting “Community Conversation” meeting on Monday, February 3rd. Over the last twelve years I have had the opportunity to host numerous “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.

There are a lot of issues we can discuss, however, based on recent events I would like talk about the issue of diversity, equity & inclusion as it relates to our community and Saline Area Schools.  What role do we play as a school district?  What role should we play?

In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Monday, February 3rd from 9:30am- 11:00am at Liberty School, 7265 N. Ann Arbor St. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.

If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you,
Scot Graden

Statement Regarding Racial Incident on Social Media by SHS Students

January 27, 2020

January 27, 2020

Dear Saline Area Schools Community,

On Monday, January 27th it was brought to the attention of our staff and administration that offensive and inappropriate racist comments using derogatory terms about African Americans were posted on social media by Saline High School students. Administrators at Saline High School conducted a thorough investigation of the situation and determined that the incident represents an act of racism that created harm to all of our students, especially students of color. Hate, prejudice, and racism have no place in our schools or our community. 

Our School and our District find the words used in these posts to be deplorable and we strongly denounce the actions and words of these students. The Saline Board of Education and administration take these issues seriously as we strive to ensure a welcoming, inclusive, and safe environment for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, or any other identity. This is an opportunity for us – the staff, students, and community of Saline Area Schools – to stand for anti-racism, respect, and inclusion of all students.

In addition, we recognize that harm has been done to students of color in Saline who saw the post. Additional efforts must be made to repair the damage from this situation. Saline Area Schools, along with many districts across the nation, use a process known as restorative practices (or restorative justice), where in conjunction with clear discipline for infraction of school rules, we work with those who created the harm as well as those who were harmed to repair the damage. 

Saline Area Schools is committed to creating and sustaining a culturally proficient and inclusive learning environment where EVERY member of the community is valued and respected. In addition to the above noted measures, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee will continue to work on methods to help educate all students and staff regarding the ways that language and behavior can harm groups of people who have been historically marginalized.

The District will continue working to ensure that our schools provide a safe and inviting environment void of these types of despicable words and actions. Our staff will work diligently to ensure that this is the case for ALL of our students.  For information about how to talk to your child(ren) about issues of race follow this link – http://bit.ly/BeyondGoldenRule

Sincerely,

Scot Graden

Superintendent

Saline Area Schools

Saline Board of Education – Thank You

January 14, 2020
Back (l to r) Tim Austin, Paul Hynek, Dennis Valenti, Michael McVey
Front (l to r) Susan Estep, Heidi Pfannes, Jennifer Steben, Evan Thomas (Student Representative)

The key to a brighter future for Michigan’s children is a strong public education system.  Every day, our students count on Saline Area Schools to help prepare them for a successful future. Whether our students understand it or not, they count on the adults in our community to ensure that they have access to resources to help them learn, keep their buildings safe and have qualified teachers to guide them.  It requires focus and an unwavering commitment to Saline Area Schools to make this all possible.

At the end of the day, the true heroes contributing to the success of our students are just ordinary citizens with extraordinary dedication to public education: our School Board Members. They are Tim Austin, Susan Estep, Paul Hynek, Michael McVey, Heidi Pfannes, Jennifer Steben, and Dennis Valenti. These individuals approach their school board service like it is a full-time job.

Their job is to pursue the Saline Area Schools vision for education.  They ensure our schools are accountable to the community and strongly advocate continuous improvement in student learning.  The job of a School Board Member is tough, the hours long and the thanks few and far between. Too often we’re quick to criticize School Board Members without really understanding the complex nature of their decisions.  We have to remember to take time to thank them for their untiring efforts.

The month of January marks the observance of School Board Recognition Month.  This is an opportunity to show our year-round appreciation for these servant leaders and begin to better understand how local trustees work together to prepare today’s students to be tomorrow’s leaders.  We encourage you to join with others throughout our community, state, and nation to salute the individuals who provide grassroots governance of public schools.

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