Open Letter from KHS Alumni to RSU 21 School Board of Directors

February 25, 2019

Maine Regional School Unit (RSU) 21 School Board of Directors,

As alumni of Kennebunk High School, we were deeply saddened to learn about the experience of Rosa Slack, Jalion McLean, and other community members of color within the RSU 21 school district.

Furthermore, we are dissatisfied with the response of Superintendent of Schools, Kathryn Hawes, in both the February 17 Maine Sunday Telegram article and her subsequent public statement posted on the district website.

Racism of any kind should not be tolerated in our community. Period. The confederate flag is a symbol of racism. Reluctance to allow the school’s civil rights team to publicly support students in another district who have been harassed with hate speech is complicitness in racism. Non-transparency by KHS administrators about racist incidents and how offending parties will, or will not, be held accountable perpetuates structural and institutional racism. Members of our community do not feel safe at school and in their own homes- this is wholly unacceptable.

We support Erin Nadeau, a former RSU 21 board member, in her call to action as expressed in the Portland Press Herald opinion piece on February 22. Accordingly, and in addition to, we respectfully request the following from the RSU 21 School Board of Directors:

1. A statement of commitment to anti-racism
2. Acknowledgment that senior KHS administrators and the Superintendent of Schools did not respond appropriately to past incidents of racism
3. A public apology to Rosa Slack, Jalion McLean, and all RSU 21 community members who have been hurt by racism within our school system
4. An independent investigation into incidents reported by Ms. Slack and the McLean family, with subsequent findings made available to the public
5. A detailed action plan for how issues of racial equity will be addressed within the RSU 21 school system, including comprehensive training for faculty, staff, and students and opportunities for engagement and dialogue within the broader community

We thank you in advance for your consideration and timely response to the queries outlined in this petition. The mission statement of the RSU 21 School Board of Directors is as follows: “Developing productive and global citizens by building knowledge and character.” As alumni of KHS, we understand how important it is to lead by example and want to be part of the solution.
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