Dear Parents, Caregivers, and Staff,
The Mount Ascutney School District Board was uniformly appalled by Principal Tiffany Riley’s recent Facebook post, which stated:
“I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist [sic]”
The ignorance, prejudice, and lack of judgement in these statements are utterly contrary to the values we espouse as a school board and district. However, these statements were not alone. They were followed later by a follow up Facebook post, which acknowledged no culpability, expressed no specific contrition or empathy, and showed no humility. Because of this glaring miscomprehension of the situation, we feel unanimously that Ms. Riley’s continued role as our school leader damages the school and its students.
Ours is not a racially diverse school, so it is easy to forget or to be unconscious to the racial inequities that exist in the form of White Privilege in our community and our state. If we are not acknowledging White Advantage and working to remove it, we are not attempting to provide our minority students an equal opportunity for education. If we are not teaching all our students that bias exists in our community and working to remove it, we are complicit in its perpetuation.
We have expectations of the leaders in our schools – that they will strive to embody education as a living, fluid concept, one that encompasses listening, learning, and teaching as equal partners. We speak of creating lifelong learners, but as leaders, we must also continually listen and learn. There are expectations of trust, knowledge, honesty, and thought that are not present in everyday conversation. It is our responsibility to be aware of that, especially in our public statements.
Although we recognize Ms. Riley’s meaningful and positive impact on Windsor School, we have voted unanimously to place Ms. Riley on paid leave, effective immediately, and we are resolved that she will no longer lead our school.
Elizabeth Burrows, Chair
Amy McMullen, Vice Chair