Education

Superintendent to families, staff: CMS will address hate and racism, protect all kids

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox sent a statement Tuesday to CMS staff and families about how the district will deal with hate, racism and violence.
Superintendent Clayton Wilcox sent a statement Tuesday to CMS staff and families about how the district will deal with hate, racism and violence. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will stand firm against hate speech and racism when schools open on Monday, new Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said in a message blasted to tens of thousands of employees and families Tuesday.

Wilcox, who took office July 3, said he has struggled to find words for “some of the saddest days in our nation’s recent history,” in the aftermath of a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va.

“The racism and violence must be condemned in the strongest terms,” Wilcox wrote. “As we approach the opening of school, I want you to know that as your superintendent I will not and do not tolerate hateful words or actions, bigotry or any form of racist behavior in our classrooms, schools or on our grounds. There simply is no place for it.”

The message includes links to resources from the National Association of School Psychologists that CMS staff will use to guide work on social justice, school safety and creating a climate for success. Employees will respect age appropriateness and the fact that families have different values and experiences, he wrote.

“We certainly will recognize that individual students’ exposure to hateful words and actions may vary widely and we do not want to create an issue where none exists,” he wrote. “However, I also want you and your children to know that I stand firm in my resolve to address hateful behaviors or speech, or racism in any form, in our schools. Team CMS will stand up for and protect each and every child in our care and I hope you will stand with us in the days ahead.”

The message comes as President Donald Trump’s initial reluctance to specifically condemn the KKK, neoNazi and other white nationalist marchers, followed by his insistence that “all sides” were to blame for violence in Charlottesville, have created a national furor.

While a few schools in CMS and around the region are already in session, most North Carolina public schools open Monday.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

  Comments