- Investigating specific experiences shared: We will continue to review all of the experiences posted on @blackatrcds. The safety and wellbeing of our students are our highest priorities, and racist acts are contrary to our mission. As members of the RCDS community, all of us must take the experiences shared very seriously. The School will investigate and take all necessary action as appropriate to drive sustainable change.
- Putting a stop to the n-word and other words of hate/racism: Words have power, and words can be violent. The n-word and other words of hate/racism are not to be spoken at school by anybody—students, faculty, coaches, or staff—in class, in song, in writing, or in conversation. The disciplinary procedures regarding use of the n-word and other words of hate/racism will be clarified in the 2020-21 Employee and Parent/Student Handbooks, including that any violation will result in disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion and termination.
- Reviewing disciplinary procedures and holding members of our community accountable: The School will review and expand disciplinary policies and procedures to ensure that students, faculty, and staff are held to the highest standard of accountability following any racist incident. We will revisit the ways in which members of our community report acts of racism and bias to ensure safety, support, accountability, and action.
- Administrative procedures should not get between students and their education: The administration will make adjustments to procedures based on feedback starting with ensuring timely access to report cards for all students, reviewing lateness policies in the Upper School, and ensuring students have timely access to their necessary learning materials.
- Mandatory anti-racism training for faculty, coaches, staff, and Board members: The School will focus on anti-racism and anti-bias education and training for all groups. This summer, faculty, coaches, staff, and Board members will be required to read from a selection of anti-racist texts. Mandatory anti-bias and anti-racism training will take place for all faculty, coaches, staff, and Board members in August. Ongoing training will continue as a part of the faculty/coach/staff/trustee experience at Rye Country Day and will be built further into employee evaluation. Anti-racism, equity, and inclusion work are never done, so there will be no point at which any teacher, coach, staff member, or trustee is exempt from this training requirement.
- Mandatory anti-racism training for students: All students must be held to a high standard of character, which will include immediate and additional anti-racism and anti-bias programming on a regular basis in the required curriculum for all students. Our 2019-20 theme of the year was citizenship. The 2020-21 theme will be character. Both of these themes come from the RCDS Portrait of a Graduate.
- Summer Focus on Social Justice: Diversity and Inclusion and Public Purpose programming for students, as well as for alumni and parents/guardians, will continue through the summer and moving forward. This includes the student-led Action Against Racism initiative, the all-school Social Justice Committee, age-appropriate Middle and Lower School anti-racism programming, the Social Justice Summit in partnership with local schools, and student-led efforts on campus such as the Coalition of Solidarity, the Students of Color Affinity Group (SoC), and Uplift among others. Parents and guardians will be invited to discussion forums and to read from a selection of anti-racist texts. The School recognizes that it is accountable for driving cultural change and will seek feedback from all interested students and families to assess our anti-racism initiatives. We will continue to keep the broader RCDS community informed on our progress.
- Senior administrator responsibilities and assignments: In addition to my personal involvement, I have appointed three senior administrators, Dr. Meredith deChabert, Assistant Head of School, Ali Morgan, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and Rebecca Drago, Director of Public Purpose, to oversee the implementation of these immediate actions and the longer term goals of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan.
- Head of School title change: While the term headmaster refers to head teacher, the word master bears the painful history of slavery in our nation and the systemic racism and injustice that have followed and plagued us since. Additionally, it carries a history of gender inequality in leadership roles. On Friday evening, I requested that the Board of Trustees change my title from Headmaster to Head of School, which they have agreed to, effective immediately.
- Gathering and acting on feedback: We are acting on your feedback. I have invited any member of the community who is willing to share their experience at RCDS to schedule a meeting with me (in person or via phone, email, or Zoom). The School has also reached out to the administrators of the @blackatrcds Instagram account with a request to meet to gather more information. We will host constituent-specific forums for students, parents, alumni, and faculty/staff to voice their experiences, feedback, and ideas. Please reach out to me directly, or to Ali Morgan and/or Rebecca Drago, if you would like to schedule a meeting with me or another school administrator. If you would prefer to share your experience or ideas for change by submitting an electronic form that will alert school administrators, please do so here. This form may be submitted anonymously.
Many of the immediate actions listed above result from the experiences we have heard and the feedback we have received. We will continue to make and announce future changes based on feedback.