Petition for Equity and Accountability Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence

Petition for Equity and Accountability Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence

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Petition BGC started this petition to Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence

PLEASE SEE FULL PETITION WITH TESTIMONIES HERE. 

Over the past few months, it has become increasingly aware to many employees at Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence that the organization is incapable of providing safe and adequate service to the children of Lawrence School District. The organization, as it stands today, is incapable of fulfilling its mission of enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens due to the unsafe conditions, systemic inequity, and multi-level mismanagement within the structure of Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Kansas.  

Furthermore, the creators of this document would like readers to know that creating this petition and collecting personal testimonies is a last resort. We have tried to resolve these issues internally for months. We have had long discussions with Human Resources, the CEO, and other members of leadership and administration about these pressing concerns. Time and time again, for months, these issues have been swept under the rug and dismissed. When serious concerns about specific individuals were reported, no action, to our knowledge, was ever taken. In fact, despite many incriminating reports against specific individuals, they were given promotions, raises, and more programs to oversee.

Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence is a large organization with many employees. We would like to clearly state that most, if not all, of these grievances, are directed towards those in full-time leadership and administrative positions. No one in leadership and administration is without guilt.

OUR DEMANDS AND GRIEVANCES AS FOLLOWS:

UNSAFE CONDITIONS:
*There must be accountability for the unsafe conditions the children we serve are being put into due to severe, and oftentimes intentional, understaffing. There is a critical amount of vacant positions within the Program Staff. Programs are expected to run fully and properly, with 2-3 staff total. Part time staff are pushed to their limits, facing severe lack of support or a proper amount of employees to ensure a safe program for our children. Children are being put in unsafe conditions while Area Directors and the Director of Elementary Operations, Laura Wagner, witness and choose to be complacent - telling them to “do what you need to do”. Children are being physically harmed, neglected, and bullied, due to the complete lack of supervision. Part Time Staff and Site Coordinators are being stretched beyond thin - while the majority of Admin staff work from home or from the main office, rarely, if ever, stepping into the schools that we serve.

*This program is routinely accepting high-need children who we are incapable of serving. Our children and our staff members are repeatedly being put in dangerous situations due to a lack of resources, education, and experience needed to serve high-need children. This organization cannot serve children with behavioral problems, disabilities, and Special Needs - they are not qualified to do it safely and are denied resources when it is evident they need help. They do not have access to paras, and most of our group leaders tasked with the primary care of these children are aged 16-21 and lack any formal Special Needs or disability training.

*Many employees, including members of administration, have been allegedly reported abusing alcohol, drugs, and prescription pills while at work in the presence of children - yet retain their jobs due to “lack of evidence”. When these concerns were brought to members of leadership, they were dismissed - and children were put into further danger and continued unsafe situations.

*Incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion year round in our programs - not just when it’s convenient for a photo op. While many of our programs are Grant-Funded, there is still flexibility with the curriculum. Additionally, in the face of traumatic, racially motivated events, we need action plans for addressing the harm in our clubs immediately. We can no longer afford to wait two weeks after to talk to children about it. They experience this trauma in real time, and we have the resources to gather ASAP and grant our staff the resources they need to hold space for our students.

*Please note you may see the Diversity and Equity team referred to as the E team, D&E team, and DEI team throughout the petition.

SYSTEMIC INEQUITY:
*Employees have been calling out the toxic, unsafe, and inequitable culture at the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence for years - and little has ever been done.

*White Employees are standing on the shoulders of our BIPOC employees - and are receiving all the credit and praise for the work that BIPOC did.

*Denounce the exploitation of its employees by paying Full Time Employees no less than $15 an hour - and phase out AmeriCorps.

*Complete a full investigation as to why BIPOC are more likely to resign or have their jobs terminated within the organization, despite the fact that the organization’s demographics reveal that its employees are majority white.

*Compensate Full Time and Part Time Employees who have been denied raises due to “budget constraints” and retroactively compensate them accurately for any lost wages over time with additional Paid Time Off (that does not expire) or a Cash Bonus.

*There must be accountability for the unethical process of denying promotions to qualified employees. Vital positions stay vacant despite the many qualified candidates who apply - putting an undue burden upon Site Coordinators and Part-Time staff. Promotions are denied, time and time again, to qualified employees within the organization. This creates an unsafe and inequitable environment within this organization.

*Hire a Full Time Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This role would work with Human Resources and the Elementary and Teen Programs to ensure safe, equitable, and ethical operations of Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence. This role would also oversee the Diversity & Equity Team, who, as it stands today, oversees themselves, or is overseen by the CEO, Monica Dittmer, who is unqualified for the role.

*Hire on-site translators to serve our diverse population. Part-time staff, more often people of color, are often asked to fill gaps in language barriers between families and BGC, but are not compensated for this extra work. When no staff present can translate a document it’s not uncommon for administrators to ask the multilingual child to explain the situation to their guardians. In order to be truly accessible, we need all documentation to be produced in languages relevant to our site, as well as have a hotline to call when we need translators present for non-paperwork related situations. We must stop tokenizing our children and part-time staff for our ongoing profit.

*Administration has been aware of this issue for years. It was only after many employees voiced their concerns that the Diversity & Equity Team has recently begun addressing these concerns. This past Spring 2021 semester, some resources were made available to non-English speakers. However, these resources are scarce and incomplete. While some headway has been made, there is still a long road ahead before accessibility can truly be accounted for.

MULTI-LEVEL MISMANAGEMENT
*A large majority of the administrative staff lack the emotional intelligence necessary to work at a high need child welfare agency. The entire Social Emotional Learning needs fell upon one position which is now vacant. The fact that one position was responsible for the emotional well being of all the children from 14 elementary schools was unsustainable and led to many children being neglected and put into harmful and unsafe situations, involving emotional, physical, racial, and anti-LGBTQ+ issues.

*It has become increasingly obvious that many Administrative Staff play favorites and are incapable of treating their employees justly and fairly. BIPOC are more likely to get reprimanded, written up, and terminated than white employees who engage in the same, and oftentimes more severe, actions.

*There must be accountability and transparency with the budget for this organization. Recently, the organization purchased brand new iPhones for its full time employees - while Supply Requests for our programs are getting denied due to “budget constraints”. When questioned about this decision, CEO, Monica Dittmer, said that it was because the organization was switching phone plans. It is common knowledge that you do not need to purchase a new phone to switch providers.

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