Jason Thompson

January 11, 2019

Dear Marysville School District Families,

The Marysville School District believes our diversity, in all forms, is a strength for our district and students. Our district is more diverse today in all ways, including ethnicity, race, culture, religion, gender identities, sexual orientation, and economics, than at any point in our history, and we expect to continue to grow in this way. We are not immune to prejudice and racism present in society at large, including the use of racial slurs or hate speech. One such example occurred recently. While leaving school, a student used hate speech in the form of a racial slur directed at another student.  When confronted, the student used the language again. It is important to note other students involved did not intervene in the use of the hate speech. I want to assure the communities of Marysville and Tulalip this behavior and speech is not, and will not, be tolerated in the Marysville School District. It is a blatant form of racial harassment, and it will result in disciplinary action and engagement with law enforcement as warranted by the facts of any specific incident.

Unfortunately, this particular incident was not a solitary instance of prejudice and discriminatory behavior in our school community, and it was part of a call to action we cannot ignore. Our students and families deserve schools that honor and value the diversity of our community.

Teaching our students about the cultures, the perspectives, and experiences of the rich diversity already present in our schools is our goal. When students are exposed to the ideas and perspectives inherent in our diverse school community, it helps prepare them for life and relationships outside of school that are increasingly diverse as well. At the core of all of us is a basic human need to feel valued and belong. When we take the time and put the energy into learning about experiences and perspectives different than our own, we learn we have much more in common than we perceive, and we respect our differences in a very deep way.

The nature of this work will be challenging and will force us to engage in ongoing examination of and conversations about the work we do in our schools every day. Change is inevitable and welcome. This will not be the last time you hear from me on our progress toward a safer, more equitable environment in our schools. I invite your continued participation in valuing the unique gifts and diverse cultures our students bring to school every day.

Additionally, we are organizing an Equity and Diversity Committee to examine policies and practices in our district that may be contributing to institutionalized forms of discrimination and prejudice and make recommendations on changes we can make to become a more equitable, welcoming school district. I encourage you to read more about that opportunity here: http://bit.ly/msd25-equity.

Your student may have questions or want to talk about their experiences in school, and we encourage that dialog. With your help, we will make the Marysville School District a place where every student and family feels welcome and valued. Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns at 360-965-0001.

With deep respect,

Jason Thompson Superintendent