Dear Da Vinci Students, Parents/Guardians, Community Members and Friends,
I write this letter at a time of year that typically brings feelings of accomplishment, celebration and a collective desire to relax and rejuvenate during the summer months. This year is different. We have ended our school year braving two global pandemics. COVID-19 began sometime last fall but systemic racism has persisted for centuries. The horrific and senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others have spurred feelings of anger, despair and shame. Today we stand in solidarity with members of the black community who have suffered and continue to suffer.
At Da Vinci, we believe in the disruption of systems that no longer, or have never, served our students and community. We must continually re-examine our practices to ensure we are creating systems and supports that serve our entire community, not just those who speak loudest or most often.
Da Vinci Schools has long espoused a commitment to closing the opportunity gap for those who have been marginalized. As an organization, we must apply authentic introspection regarding our own diversity, equity and inclusion practices. We must be disciplined in how we reflect and reconsider, and when we fall short, we must admit and repair. In this ongoing work, we make a solidarity commitment to:
- Creating spaces in our organization for diverse voices to be heard, especially those of our students;
- Continuing to ensure ongoing professional development on implicit bias, diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism, reaching every employee of Da Vinci Schools;
- Ongoing professional development for Da Vinci teachers around delivering culturally relevant, responsive and anti-racist instruction;
- Continual training for Da Vinci staff around restorative justice and trauma-informed practices in an effort to re-examine current discipline policies;
- Continuing to ensure our educators reflect the diversity of our student population and that this includes school leaders, central office leadership and board members;
- Developing an equity audit and engage stakeholders to ensure equal access and treatment;
- Collaborating with students to form a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force that will ensure ongoing dialogue about our equity, inclusion and anti-racism work as a school community; and
- Evaluating our student handbooks, and specifically our student codes of conduct to address social norms around racial slurs, implicit racial bias and instances of prejudice in all forms, and revise as necessary.
At Da Vinci Schools, we believe in the transformative power of education and we seek to contribute to a world shaped by respect, equality and justice for all.
Matthew Wunder, Ed.D.
Chief Executive Officer