I, along with several other school staff, attended a meeting at the Church of St. Dominic yesterday afternoon. Father Dennis Dempsey organized the meeting so members of the Hispanic community could share their concerns and anxieties following last week’s presidential election. The church was nearly full and included a cross-section of the larger Northfield community who attended to support our Hispanic friends and neighbors.
The speakers shared their concerns and almost all shared worries for their children and how they are treated. They shared some specific concerns of insensitive/inappropriate comments made to their children by other children at school. They also shared concerns about things they have heard happening to Hispanic and children of color in other communities.
An immigration lawyer spoke and explained that while he understood the anxiety over immigration law, policy, and deportation. He reassured the community that the election would not have immediate impact on immigration law and policy. He stated he was very confident that everyone who was at the meeting would be here four years from now. He stated he would be available for those who had specific concerns.
Mayor-elect Rhonda Pownell and I spoke at the meeting too. Both of us stated clearly that Northfield is a place where hate and discrimination will not be tolerated. I explained to families that District administrators, teachers, and staff support their children unequivocally and not only want them to feel safe, but valued. I encouraged them to report any incidents of inappropriate comments, harassment, or discrimination to their teachers or principals. I assured them we have policies and procedures in place to follow up and address any concerns or incidents that may occur.
Regardless of politics, it is clear that we are experiencing unprecedented conditions following a national election. We are prepared to support every student in our school. We have systems in place and a strong common belief that all students are welcome in our schools and we will ensure a respectful envrionment for them to learn. Our staff is steadfast in their commitment to greet students each day with a warm smile, to be visible and present in our halls and common spaces, and to demonstrate ongoing care for our students. Our staff will be vigilant and intervene in situations where there are behavioral issues. I cannot emphasize this enough — please report any incidents of inappropriate comments, harassment, or discrimination to building administration. When they have specific details, they are well trained in how to address these kinds of concerns.
Northfield Public Schools staff is dedicated to preparing every student for lifelong success. We stand ready to partner with our community to realize this vision and to reinforce that Northfield is a place where all are welcome to live, work, and learn.