[BHS Etree] ADMIN: Planning for Ferguson Grand Jury Announcements

BHS Etree bhs at lists.lmi.net
Fri Nov 21 20:21:43 PST 2014

Dear BHS Families:


Dr. Evans and I have conferred with our partners at the Berkeley Police
Department as well as the BHS Administrative Team. The following information
was provided to BHS staff tonight and we thought parents might be interested
as well. 


- Pasquale Scuderi



Dear BHS Staff and Families:


School districts and school personnel in many cities across the country are
planning for a variety of potential responses to the forthcoming
announcement of grand jury deliberations on the fatal shooting of Michael
Brown, the Missouri teenager whose passing has generated national attention,
demonstrations, and concern. There are multiple ways in which this event
could impact individual kids, classroom environments, and community
dynamics, and while we have no specific or explicit concerns at this time,
we thought it would be prudent to consider the potential impact and provide
some basic guidelines, directions, and tools to staff in advance.


Individual Student Needs


We understand that such a case, and its outcomes, may stir deep and varying
emotions for many of our students, some of whom have experienced the
traumatic impact of comparable violence within their own families or


We remind all staff to first refer students who need support to their
counselors who will then help students access additional supports as


Classroom Considerations


We also want to share a basic resource for managing discussions in the
classroom, in particular discussions of topics like the one in Ferguson;
topics that can often generate varying perspectives, pronounced emotions,
and require a teacher to provide complex and nuanced facilitation to keep
all students feeling safe, and to increase the probability that such
challenging content and subject matter expands understanding rather than
fuels conflict and division.


The brief article, Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom
<http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/icb.topic58474/hotmoments.html> ,
published by the Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University,
provides some useful perspectives on how to deal with classroom conflict
and/or tension generated by the discussion of issues such as race and/or
gender, and is a helpful refresher on things to consider when managing such


Community Response and Public Demonstrations


As a District we know that there is certainly a chance that protests in
either neighboring communities or neighboring areas of the city are a
possibility. We have conferred with our partners at the Berkeley Police
Department and believe our recommendations are largely in line with theirs.


While we will assume positive intent on behalf of those who organize
demonstrations, and support the rights of peaceful and productive
demonstration and assembly, we cannot, as a district, recommend or encourage
students to join protests outside of the school, particularly during school
hours when we are collectively responsible for them. There are too many
variables and liabilities in these types of crowd situations or off campus


Students who wish to organize or create space for discussion or
demonstration on campus are encouraged to seek support and cooperation from
school staff so that peaceful and effective processing, demonstration, or
protest can be facilitated and coordinated in a way that prioritizes and
maximizes student and campus safety.


As always, we will support students' rights to expression, opinion, and
speech, and will only take issue with those who conflate those concepts with
an entitlement to jeopardize the safety of themselves or others. 




Dr. Donald Evans 



Pasquale Scuderi

Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services



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