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Every Student Belongs

Dec. 18, 2020 

Greetings, MSD Community! 

We are grateful, inspired, and hopeful to share with you that our board voted unanimously last night to pass a historic policy for student safety. The Every Student Belongs Policy prohibits the display of four of the most recognizable symbols of hate—the swastika, the Confederate flag, the noose, and Ku Klux Klan symbology and emblems. The policy bans these symbols at all school activities both in person and remote (distance learning). 

Sadly, we know our students have experienced hate and discrimination on our campuses. We CAN and we WILL do better. This policy is a step in the right direction. Every student is entitled to a high-quality educational experience, free from discrimination or harassment based on perceived race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin, and without fear of hatred, racism, or violence. The same is true for our educators and volunteers.

While this began as a rule adopted by the State of Oregon, the All Students Belong Rule, it became a strong MSD policy due to powerful feedback from diverse members of our community, including MSD students, staff, and parents of color, as well as a group called Southern Oregon Attorneys for Justice. The policy was strengthened with their feedback in the following ways:

  • Changing the title from All Students Belong to Every Student Belongs.
  • Adding KKK symbology and emblems as a recognizable symbol of hate. 
  • Adding the phrase “including but not limited to” in reference to the specific symbols.

We are grateful that feedback from our community led to the adoption of this policy.  

And now the hard work begins. 

As part of this policy adoption, MSD will develop procedures for addressing bias incidents. These responses will not include disciplinary strategies like suspensions, expulsions, or similar punitive measures unless there is a threat to health or safety. Instead, we will work to educate our communities and those displaying hateful symbols regarding the impact of their actions with non-punitive remedial measures. We will work to create safe spaces for dialogue around these important issues.

To do this work, we need your help. If you would like to be part of our work around Every Student Belongs, in addition to our long term efforts on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), please share your interest on this committee interest form by January 6. We will be reconvening a revived MSD EDI Team by February 2021. 

In the Medford School District, we have a shared vision, ALL are learning and learning is for ALL, and we are charged with knowing EVERY student by name, strength, and need.  As we work toward that vision, we must always remember that when one person is harmed, it affects us all. As adults, we are responsible for making sure that our children are safe, and that they receive the education they so richly deserve.

Thank you for your continued courageous work to create a place for students where they can learn to respect differences between people and where every student can be free to receive their education without fear and free from harm.