Statement from Superintendent Guerrero on the Disruption to Oct. 26 Board of Education Meeting10/27/2021
Following is a statement from Portland Public Schools (PPS) Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero:
"Last night, the PPS Board of Education was scheduled to meet in person for their regular meeting. A student vaccine requirement discussion on the agenda drew a large number of attendees, many without a shared concern for the health and safety of our collective community. Some of those attendees entered the PPS building masked, then took their masks off and refused to comply with PPS requests for all attendees to adhere to the statewide mask requirement. After failure to comply, Board Chair Michelle DePass suspended the Board meeting and moved it online shortly thereafter. Even after the board meeting resumed, unmasked attendees remained inside the building.
"We are deeply disappointed that some attendees blatantly disregarded the statewide face covering requirement, creating a public health hazard for Portland’s students, families, staff, members of the media, and board members. This is simply unacceptable. While we welcome a diversity of perspectives to be expressed in a public setting, Chair DePass made the right call in moving the discussion to a virtual setting, given the unwillingness of certain members of the audience to observe required public health requirements. One important value of our district is to promote civil public discourse. And we support our students in continuing to build their engagement as civic leaders.
"Last night our students and staff were also confronted with the use of offensive racist language. Hate speech is not tolerated in our community. This incident is an affront to our core values of racial equity and social justice, respect, honesty and integrity. We value and respect everyone in our school community and understand that our diversity makes us stronger. Everyone is welcome at PPS and everyone belongs. Everyone deserves an environment where we can discuss the issues that impact us and where we can feel safe and secure. Our goal is to cultivate an environment of respect and a sense of belonging. This incident was documented and we followed our protocols to address this. We are offering supportive services to staff impacted by this, and have been engaged in supporting students and staff to navigate civic unrest in our PPS Civic Engagement and Unrest Toolkit."
Next Steps on Vaccine Requirement Discussion
After a productive discussion by the PPS School Board, the Board of Education made the decision to delay a vote on the topic until Nov. 16 at the earliest. This will permit additional opportunities to hear from PPS families and students, and ensure staff can provide the School Board with additionally requested information to help inform this complex and important decision.
The PPS Board of Education is committed to listening to students, families and staff in the community. PPS also invites families to share their thoughts on this topic through written feedback at PPS.net/contact.
PPS is asking the Portland community to constructively share their feedback and engage in a respectful discussion about a possible vaccine requirement. The District commends PPS students for expressing their perspectives in moving ways.
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