Opinion | Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. responds to criticism of press release | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. responds to criticism of press release

Dr. Marion Smith Jr
Superintendent of Schools, Summit School District
New Summit School District Superintendent Marion Smith Jr. stands outside the school district administration building in Frisco on Wednesday, July 22. Smith is focused on providing equity and valuing diversity as superintendent.
Libby Stanford / estanford@summitdaily.com

On Oct. 13, I was made aware of an opinion piece, “Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons: Summit School District Press Release Was Prejudicial,” in the Summit Daily News written by our county sheriff.

Since moving to Summit County, I have been asked repeatedly about my agenda. Let me be clear. I do not have an agenda! My work and what I was hired to do: Work with the community to use multiple sources of data to surface and address inequitable policies, practices and procedures to create the enabling conditions and systemwide structures to ensure each of our scholars thrive. Look at our data. We have work to do, as a system, to address the needs of 34% of our scholars who qualify for free and reduced lunch, 20% of our scholars who are English-language learners, and 9% of our scholars who receive special education services. Historical district data reveals that these scholar groups continue to remain furthest from educational equity.

To state the facts and be clear:

1. On June 23 (prior to my start as superintendent of schools), Summit School District and the Summit School District Board of Education issued a press release about “standing together against racism and injustice.”

The press release on Sept. 25 was issued as a follow-up to state facts and to name specific district actions to move forward with what the school district and Board of Education committed to in June 2020.

2. Last month, our county sheriff was invited by our Board of Education to present and share information about the signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Summit School District and the sheriff’s office (Programming: School Resource Officers) at the Oct. 15 BOE meeting. The purpose of the presentation: To deepen understanding of the full board of the three goals of the MOU and data used to progress monitor SRO programming.

3. For over 20 years, it has been my professional practice and expectation that if I or someone else has an issue, concern and/or question, that we speak directly to the source. Since the Sept. 25 press release, I have not been communicated with in any capacity about the concern(s) and/or issue(s) shared publicly in the opinion piece in the Summit Daily.

Linda Christensen, a careerlong social justice educator and leader, once stated, “Community isn’t always synonymous with warmth and harmony. Politeness is often a veneer for understanding, when in reality it masks uncovered territory, the unspeakable pit that we turn from because we know the pain and anger that can dwell there. It is important to remind ourselves that real community is forged out of struggle. This is the crucible from which a real community grows.”

I look forward to being in community with each of you. We are in this together. We have work to do.

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