In our continuous effort to be transparent, we want to make you aware of action that the Beaverton School District will be taking in regards to Black Lives Matter-related signs that have been installed on school properties. In addition, we want to address the Black Lives Matter message that the District has been displaying on our own school reader boards and school windows (where school reader boards either don’t exist or are inoperable).
First, we’d like to offer some background information: On June 20, a group of students, parents and community members installed homemade signs promoting messages related to anti-racism on the fence at West Tualatin View Elementary School. Soon after, other community members took similar action on the fence at Cedar Park Middle School. It should be noted that while BSD is a public school district, district property is not considered public property. Our administrators and school principals reached out to community members and ultimately decided to allow the signs to remain through today, July 6 at 5pm.
To be clear, our administrative regulation KJA-AR reads: “any signage installed or placed on District-owned property, except in conformance with the requirements of this administrative rule, is declared to be a trespass and will be removed by the District.” Some community members have argued that the District violated its own rule by not immediately removing the signs. However, our School Board and District leadership team recognize that this is an extraordinary moment in our nation’s history. We want to support and amplify our Black and African-American students’ and families’ voices and support those advocating for an end to racism. That is why we exercised discretion in extending the removal deadline to July 6.
Understandably, those who installed the signs on our property would like them to remain. However, in doing so, we — in effect — would be inviting any group with any kind of message to use our property as a public forum. We have genuine safety concerns regarding potential conflicts that could arise between opposing groups and additionally, how that would expose our District to liability.
We’d like to thank the West TV and Cedar Park communities for removing signs yesterday and today. Any signs that remain will be removed by staff and then preserved by school principals for further educational opportunities when school resumes in the fall. We would ask our community to respect our decision and not place additional signs on school property. If signs continue to be posted, our staff will have to use their energy to enforce this policy at a time when we as a District need to be focused on our return-to-school plan.
Also, our reader board messages will begin to focus on vital information that we need to communicate to parents and students regarding our return-to-school plan. While the Black Lives Matter message will come down, it should not be interpreted as a lack of commitment on the part of our District. To the contrary, it means that we are now focused on doing the work that needs to be done to eradicate any and all institutionally-racist practices or policies that exist in our District. We’re currently involved in the following: listening and engaging with our Black and African-American students, families and staff; prioritizing the retention, recruitment and hiring of staff that represent the racial and cultural demographics of our students; adopting a more inclusive social studies curriculum; and re-evaluating our school resource officer program and our relationship with local law enforcement agencies.
We appreciate your understanding and support as we navigate these complex times.