March 14 2018 letter from Superintendent

Letter From Superintendent Blackburn About March 14th

Kyle Earhart, Cheri Post, Jeannie Peters,
Joel McBride, Jennifer Visitacion, Penny Wilken, Joe Smith
David Blackburn, Superintendent


The Florida school shooting and aftermath has caused many emotions in our students, families, and staff. Many have asked questions regarding how to help, how to process with children, and what to do next. Thank you for the support you have shown to our school community; we are grateful for our family and community partners who care deeply about the safety and success of students.

We have fielded questions at a number of schools regarding an event organized by EMPOWER, the Women’s March youth branch. The event is planned for Wednesday, March 14th at 10 a.m., one month after the Parkland, Florida shooting. It is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am in each time zone across the U.S. and last for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim.

We acknowledge that some of our students, staff, and families may want to participate in some capacity. Our school focus for March 14th will be on teaching and learning. Each grade level in each school will be prepared to address questions at the level that arises.  Regardless of level, the primary focus is to always keep our kids safe. Controversial issues include matters characterized by significant difference of opinion usually generated from differing opinions, underlying values, beliefs, and interests which can produce significant social tension. Schools may provide students with an understanding of how controversial issues are dealt with in a democracy, as well as offer a safe place to discuss their own reactions to current events.

As a community we are dedicated to continuing difficult conversations, modeling active listening, even if we do not all agree on the path ahead. We want to continue to encourage our students to Speak Up if they see or hear something that seems out of place or dangerous. As the adults in the buildings we aspire to be mentors. We all hope to be “that one person” for each of our students.

Students should not feel pressured to participate, we are simply trying to work with those that are planning to support the event to maintain order and safety. If students choose to express their opinions, we will work with students to maintain a safe school environment.

Salida Schools does not endorse any particular viewpoint or advocacy group. We have reached out to student groups to explore any intentions of engaging in activities on March 14th. This will help us keep students safe, and also consider how to best limit disruptions to the school day. We trust our staff members to uphold our responsibility to educate and supervise students and act with professionalism.

 Parents or guardians may choose to check their students out or excuse them for the day; this is a family decision. Families that plan to participate more fully are asked to excuse students and keep them home until lunch that day so as not to interrupt the educational process with exodus and entrance around 10 am that day. We have ensured adequate staffing levels for the day. We are focusing on our students’ needs and our duty to teach them.

Whatever your personal beliefs, my hope is that you will know how much we value each student. We encourage parents and students to download the Salida School District app (links from our website to be quickly informed of district activities.

Thank you for your continued partnership in educating our most precious gifts, our students.

David Blackburn
Salida School District Superintendent

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