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Evanston district officials contact parents after racist letters sent to multiple schools

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EVANSTON, Ill. — District 65 officials informed parents after racist letters were sent to three schools over the past couple of weeks.

The letters were sent via US mail to Kingsley Elementary School, Park School and the JEH Education Center, according to the letter from district officials.

"All messages read, “White N-Word Matter.” These are clear acts of racism and this offensive and extremely hateful language has no place in our schools," part of the letter reads. "In District 65, we will not tolerate anything less than kindness and respect for all members of our community."

Evanston police are investigating the incident.

Read the full letter below:

Dear District 65 Families -

This message is to inform our community of racist and hateful letters that were sent via US mail to Kingsley Elementary, Park School, and the JEH Education Center over the past couple of weeks and as recently as yesterday. All messages read, “White N-Word Matter.” These are clear acts of racism and this offensive and extremely hateful language has no place in our schools. In District 65, we will not tolerate anything less than kindness and respect for all members of our community.

This matter has been reported to the Evanston Police Department for investigation. The police will continue to work with us to monitor the situation. If you have information about the origin of these letters, please contact the police department at 847-866-5050. Principals communicated with their school communities upon receipt of the letters. In addition, our team has contacted our local chapter of the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League for their guidance and support.

It is extremely unfortunate that these are not the first racist messages directed at members of our community. For this reason, last school year a team of educators, with input from administrators and families, developed the District 65 protocol for Responding to Racism, Discriminatory Language, and Hateful Acts.

While we continue to provide staff and families with opportunities to deepen their capacity around issues of race and racism, a focused effort is underway to equip staff with tools and resources related to use of the N-Word and the power of language. In conjunction with Logan Consulting Services (LCS) LLC, all schools will participate in a dedicated professional learning opportunity on this topic during the 2019-2020 school year. More information will be forthcoming.

In District 65, we are and will continue to be committed to anti-racism, equity, respect, inclusion, and the continuous development of a school system that will allow all students, staff, families and community members to feel safe and affirmed. An opportunity to engage more deeply is through Next Steps Evanston.

Thank you for your continued support of our schools.

Sincerely,

Dr. Phil Ehrhardt
Interim Superintendent

Dr. Heidi Wennstrom
Interim Superintendent

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