In February, South Brunswick Public School District adopted a Resolution of Affirmation (click here and scroll down to section 1.16), stating where the district stands in welcoming its diverse student population. At Wednesday’s Lawrence Township Public School District Board of Education meeting, the board was urged by a group of parents to create a similar resolution.
Discussion was sparked in response to the board’s receipt of a letter that was written and signed by 43 parents. It stated, “In light of the recent executive orders regarding immigration, we have significant concerns regarding the potential impact on children in our schools. We’re asking for our school board and superintendent to lead the way in reinforcing the commitment of the Lawrence Township Public School system to tolerance and inclusion of all students. We urge you to send a clear message that LTPS will not only teach its students about diversity and inclusion, but serve as a role model as well.”
In response, Board president Kevin Van Hise said, “We certainly understand that this is a hot button and very important topic for a lot of residents here in Lawrence, across the state, and nationally. My concern [in adopting a resolution] is that a lot of things that South Brunswick [put in the resolution] are things that we’ve been doing for years. We’ve been designated as a school of character and a district of character. The words on a page are meaningful but we live it day in and day out. We’ve always striven to be all inclusive, welcoming, and nurturing.”
“We all took a vow not to be political on this board and this really is a political discussion. If the committee wants to look at, they can look at it. I don’t feel that I need to sign a piece of paper that says I don’t hate someone on the basis of their color or their economic status. Frankly, I’m insulted that it’s being brought before us because our actions show completely the opposite,” said Board member Max Ramos.
One of the letter’s signers stated, “Lawrence Township Schools are doing an awesome job. We’re very happy about that. It needs to be communicated. That’s all we’re asking.”
Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards said, “Lawrence will always be a place where they are welcomed and that we cherish them. Given the climate, some people may not always feel that way and shame on us as adults if we don’t constantly tell our children that message. I know my staff is fantastic in terms of asking, what they can do to make a child’s life feel better and safe.”
In the end, the Board agreed to refer the matter to its Community Relations and Legislative Affairs Committee for consideration.
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