BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Editor
Now in the third week of school, Clarkston Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Shawn Ryan sent out a communication last Friday stating he is “proud to say the 2021-22 school year is off to a great start.”
He added the district faculty give 110 percent every day and the vast majority of parents understand that but addressed some recent interactions with vocal citizens who have been “less than respectful toward our learning community.”
“As public figures, the Board of Education and I can tolerate and even accept a certain level of negative behaviors, tactics, and campaigning aimed to damage our personal or professional reputations and impede our work, but when it comes to our tireless public school teachers and staff, there is no acceptable level of disrespect or public shaming,” Ryan said. “The persistent attempts by some in our community to undermine our educational system stings, particularly as it comes on the heels of almost two years of partnering with parents to provide pandemic teaching across social distances and computer screens.
“I’m keenly aware that these individuals seem to want to deny us opportunities for respectful and constructive dialogue by supporting a national narrative that seeks to fracture teacher-parent trust. They recently shared an online form for reporting anonymous allegations of perceived staff ‘wrongdoing.’ Clarkston Community Schools did not authorize the creation of this form, nor are these types of ‘incident reports’ an acceptable outlet for filing any sort of complaint with us. As an academic institution of integrity, we provide multiple appropriate channels for resolving issues, and oftentimes, concerns are settled with a conversation between parent and teacher, or through a follow-up conversation with the building principal.”
Ryan went on to say his team has attempted to understand the parents’ concerns through various outlets and still some parents continue to spread false statements.
“Despite attempts by our administration and Board of Education to better understand their specific concerns through multiple emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings, several individuals have continued spreading misinformation about the district’s equity and inclusion practices,” Ryan said. “Managing this misinformation distracts from our core business of educating children. When we talk about equity and inclusion in Clarkston, we mean two things: eliminating barriers to student achievement and supporting a culture of respect for all students and staff. This reflects the high premium we place in Clarkston on teacher-student relationships, of knowing when students need additional support or an extra challenge to reach their potential and having those resources readily available. We do this in accordance with our district’s mission and vision, as well as our respect code.”
The CCS respect code states, “Mutual respect among all members of our school community is the cornerstone of our interaction and behavior. We acknowledge the dignity and worth of one another. We strive to create a welcoming atmosphere by our courtesy to others and our conduct.
Students and staff of Clarkston Community Schools: have the right to be physically safe, have the responsibility not to harm other people or their belongings, have the responsibility to consider and be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, have the right to be emotionally safe, have the responsibility to promote acceptance of self and others, have the responsibility to consider and be sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, have the right to communicate their needs and feelings, have the responsibility to express themselves in a constructive, non-threatening manner, and have the responsibility to make amends after offending others.”
According to Ryan, the respect code was developed by a committee of students and staff more than a decade ago and will soon be reviewed.
“Moving outside of the bounds of respect only serves to divide our community, demoralize our educators, and degrade our extraordinary academic experience, but we won’t let that happen,” Ryan said. “We stand behind all of our thoughtful and capable students and staff, and we stand behind this exceptional school district that we’ve built together for today’s students as well as future generations.”