Kent School District welcomes, encourages all | Watts

  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017 3:50pm
  • Opinion

On behalf of the Kent School Board and our entire staff, I want you to know every student is welcome in the Kent School District (KSD).

I am so proud to serve as your superintendent and in light of recent national, state and local developments, we also want to remind you that we care about every member of our richly diverse community. We are concerned whenever members of our community feel unsure, unloved or unsafe. Today, it is important for us to communicate our ongoing commitment to ensuring that each student, family and community member feels welcome in our schools and district office.

More than seven billion people live on this planet and 27,700 of those bright and talented individuals are students in KSD. While we may not compare to the world’s population, we do resemble the world’s diversity in many ways.

Did you know that nearly four out of every 10 families we serve speak at least one language other than English in their homes? Did you also know that we serve and support 844 students who identify as refugees? Just recently, KSD, the 261st largest school district in the country, ranked as the 11th Most Diverse School District in America and as the most diverse school district in Washington state, according to ratings based on ethnic diversity statistics from the U.S. Department of Education and student and parent reviews of ethnic, economic and cultural diversity.

Our diversity is and will remain one of our many strengths. On this basis, it is an important time to inform our community and clarify our position regarding immigrant and refugee students in the Kent School District.

We understand that, due to recent political developments in our country, our students may be experiencing fear, stress and unhappiness. Because these emotions can negatively affect a student’s ability to learn in class, it is important for our teachers, school administrators and district office staff to create safe environments that offer care, compassion and mutual respect.

In the interest of supporting the needs of Kent School District, our new Strategic Plan, The Blueprint, includes three core values: equity, excellence and community. So, how will KSD continue to align our core values in support of our students and families who may be experiencing undue stress during this time?

• We will maintain a welcoming environment for all children with celebrations such as KSD Welcomes the World Day on March 20.

• We will uphold our practice that a child’s immigration status has no impact on her/his educational program in KSD.

• We will maintain a student’s constitutional right to equal access to education, regardless of a student’s or parent’s immigration status.

• We understand that a student’s rights are protected by the Constitution, and a student’s right to access public education cannot be taken away by the president, the state or federal legislators.

• KSD will continue to enroll students regardless of immigration status, and without discrimination based on race, religion or national origin. We will not ask about a child’s immigration status at school.

Once again, I could not be more proud to serve alongside those who teach and those who support our teachers in KSD. We are happy to share with you the responsibility of creating a learning environment that is welcoming, safe and supportive for each of our students. We look forward to continued communication and we thank you for entrusting KSD with your children.

Reach Calvin J. Watts, Kent School District superintendent, at 253-373-7701 or Calvin.Watts@kent.k12.wa.us.

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