Amend May '21 PYLUSD Resolution to Include African Americans

Amend May '21 PYLUSD Resolution to Include African Americans

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NonPartisan PYLUSD started this petition to PYLUSD Board The PYLUSD Board of Trustees and

On Tuesday, May 11th, the PYLUSD Board of Trustees was presented with Resolution 20-30 on Mental Health Awareness, (pg. 197)  which seeks to recognize the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month.  The following language was struck from the resolution, “the long overdue societal reckoning with police violence against African Americans” by a 3-2 vote (Blades, Youngblood, and Anderson in favor; Freeman and Buck opposed). With this language removed, the resolution unanimously passed.

Trustee Blades expressed concern with the section that spoke to the mental health impact caused by systemic racism due to her belief that it was “not factually correct”. Trustee Freeman responded to this concern by citing that the rise in anti-Asian hate and disproportionate death rates in the Latinx community are well documented, so this language ultimately remained in the resolution. No member of the district staff or Board was able to provide Trustee Blades with the equally well-documented and widely available research and data on the trauma to African American students caused by police violence, and when an African American mother attempted to share her perspective on the Board’s decision to remove this language, she was silenced and booed and hissed by other members of the audience, while the entire Board watched in silence. 

We hereby petition the PYLUSD Board to:

1) Amend Resolution 20-30 on Mental Health Awareness to include language that acknowledges the unique mental health needs of African American students as a result of systemic racism, and

2) Issue a public apology to African American students and their families for their failure to educate themselves on issues relevant to their constituency and make data-based decisions that serve the needs and interests of all students,

3) Commit budgetary resources and time to ensuring specialized training for all district mental health professionals on how to effectively support the unique needs of its BIPOC students. 

The resolution highlights the importance of schools addressing the mental health needs of students, particularly considering the significant impact that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution also highlights the additional impact of systemic racism on BIPOC students such as disproportionate police violence against African Americans, a recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, and the significantly higher than average COVID-19 death rates among the Latinx community. 

When elected, the Board made an implicit promise to serve and protect the best interest of ALL students in the PYLUSD community. While the Trustees may not have direct experience with the documented and widely studied trauma that results from systemic racism, this does not make this data and research “not factually correct”, nor this reality any less true for our BIPOC students. The absence of this language and the resulting lack of specialized training for our mental health staff, absolutely prevents our marginalized students from having the kind of support that they need and deserve. 
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