Welcoming Schools Program and Threatened Litigation
OCTOBER 18, 2019—As some in our community know, Park City School District has recently received a demand letter from Solon Law and the Pacific Justice Institute regarding the use of the Welcoming Schools program at Trailside Elementary School. This professional learning program provides educators with information on how to address bullying situations or exclusionary behaviors with our students.
While the District’s attorneys will be substantively responding to that communication in due course, we want to inform the community regarding our perspective on the issues and attempt to correct some of the misinformation that appears to be floating around in the community.
First and foremost, the mission of Park City School District is to inspire and support ALL students EQUITABLY to achieve their academic and social potential. All Park City schools are working toward creating an inclusive environment for all families. Positive school culture is essential in welcoming all students and families to participate and feel a sense of belonging within the schools.
The District as a whole is also working to comply with applicable Utah statutes and Utah State Board of Education administrative rules regarding bullying policies and staff training. Specifically, Rule 277-613-1 requires school districts to “develop, update, and implement bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing, retaliation, and abusive conduct policies at the school district and school level.” Similarly, R277-613-4 requires school districts to provide training that includes information on various types of bullying, including “bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing, and retaliation based upon the students’ or employees’ actual or perceived characteristics, including race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or other physical or mental attributes or conformance or failure to conform with stereotypes.”
It is our belief that the use of the Welcoming Schools program for professional development is consistent with this mandate. Trailside Elementary teachers are being trained this year in a way that prepares them to have the appropriate tools to provide a safe, optimal and equitable learning environment for their students. So far this year, teachers have received 3 hours of professional development training using the Welcoming Schools program. That training was delivered by Holly Bell, Equity and Advocacy Specialist for the Utah State Board of Education. The professional development module was entitled “Embracing Family Diversity” and the goal is to equip educators with the tools to be able to answer questions from students and families about the importance of welcoming all families in our diverse school community. Written training materials provided to our staff in connection with that module are available for review.
We would be in grave violation of our duties as public educators and school leaders if we did not strive to prepare our teachers to teach not only the academic portion of the curriculum, but also to address and support the social and emotional growth and development of our diverse student body while at school. In choosing to send your child to Park City School District, you should expect nothing less of us. The Welcoming Schools program is only one small piece of this huge responsibility that we share with parents.
When questions started to be raised about the program, and even before the receipt of the demand letter at issue, we committed to looking at the implementation of the program to see if we could assuage the concerns that have been brought to our attention. While we do not believe that the program teaches sex education in any way that violates state law or otherwise violates the rights of members of our community, we will further examine this issue moving forward.
Even though the arguments set forth in the demand letter may be extremely emotional to many members of our community on both sides of the issue, we hope and expect that patrons and other community members will model the values we try to instill in our students: respect, honesty, and integrity in their communications. We also want to remind the community that pursuant to the same state law and District policy that requires us to implement anti-bullying policies and training, our employees may not be subjected to, and we will not tolerate, “abusive conduct,” meaning verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct that a reasonable person would determine is intended to cause intimidation, humiliation or unwarranted distress.
Finally, we hope that our community will appreciate that the primary obligation of our teachers is to focus on their important work within the classroom. This means that community members who wish to make their opinions known regarding these issues should address their concerns not to classroom teachers or individual school counselors and administrators, but to the Superintendent and elected members of the Board of Education. Ultimately, the Board of Education, in consultation with the Superintendent, Cabinet, and legal counsel, will decide on the appropriate response to the demands that have been made. Thank you for reading and for your continued involvement in the education of our community’s most precious resource, our children.
Master Planning Continues This School Year
Following 11 months of work that involved students, teachers, administrators, parents and community members, the district has received the final versions of its Future of Learning Educational Specifications, the Facilities Master Plan, and the Analysis of Existing Buildings and an Appendix of all documents created as part of the master planning process.
Currently, three internal task forces are meeting: 1) Early Childhood Learning, 2) Secondary School Design, and 3) Equity, Access, and Opportunity.
In October, Superintendent Jill Gildea presented the Board of Education with community input on potential master planning priorities. View presentation here.
For more information please visit our Future of Learning website here.
New Emergency Communications Protocol
Because of recent incidents at schools, Park City School District has created Emergency Communications procedures in the event of non emergency incident, actual school emergencies, and weather-related closures.
We ask all for continued vigilance and situational awareness every day, and ask students, parents and staff that if they “see something; say something.” We take all safety reports seriously and work closely with law enforcement.
Park City School District is one of the best districts in the country for good reason. From academics to athletics, our students are recognized for their outstanding achievements. Each month the district presents its accolades to the Board of Education prior to its regular meeting. Click below to view our honors and achievements so far this school year.
District Hiring Substitute School Bus Drivers
Park City School District is looking for substitute bus drivers. This is an ideal position for retirees, parents with students in school, and college students. Starting pay is $18.65/hour, and we provide all the training. Call 435-645-5600 or click here for more information.
El Distrito Escolar de Park City está buscando conductores de buses substitutos. Estas posiciones ofrecen horas muy convenientes para jubilados, padres con estudiantes en la escuela, y estudiantes universitarios. El sueldo inicial es de $18.65/hora y proveemos toda la capacitación necesaria. Llamar al 435-645-5600 para mayor información. Haga clic aquí para mas información.