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'A determination to learn and improve'

Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Lake Oswego School District parents and staff on Jan. 7 by Superintendent Heather Beck. It is reprinted here with the district’s permission.

Dear Parents and Staff,

Our winter break was bracketed by reporting of high-profile events that were disappointing for all of us. However, we are beginning the new year resolutely and with a determination to learn and improve.

Toward that end:

We are part of a strong community with a legacy of excellence that defines the Lake Oswego School District. Our primary mission is to provide an inclusive and safe learning environment for every student in our schools. We share high expectations for student achievement and well-being in every domain: academic, athletic, social and emotional. We share high expectations for staff members to be positive role models as well as academic leaders.

Recent incidents (Lakeridge High School dance team hazing, removal of the Lake Oswego High School boys basketball head coach) have shown us the following:

n As a community, we will articulate what we stand for and decisions will be made accordingly;

n We have work to do to ensure our actions align with our intentions. This will require training and raising awareness across all segments of our community: students, staff, coaches and parents.

Addressing these kinds of incidents is never simple; there are always multiple points of view, and rarely unanimous agreement. However, in both instances we followed investigative processes that worked. We trust the results of the investigations, we made appropriate and timely decisions, and we are focused on moving forward with a spirit of improvement, not recrimination.

Part of that attention to improvement, and part of the training and cultural awareness we will implement, will be a renewed focus on the district’s policy regarding hazing, harassment and bullying: 

n Hazing, harassment, intimidation or bullying, menacing, and acts of cyberbullying by students, staff or third parties is strictly prohibited and shall not be tolerated in the district.

n An important part of this reminder is that cyberbullying via electronic devices (including social media) is expressly prohibited by this policy. There can be no healing or moving forward if cyberbullying and online harassment are spilling into the school community. We all share in the responsibility to be positive role models for our students regarding the appropriate response to controversy.

We have received many inquiries regarding consequences. I can tell you that the district makes personnel decisions that follow consistent processes and procedures. However, the district will not comment on any personnel matters or on any disciplinary matters involving students.

We have an opportunity to use this moment as a catalyst for change and continuous improvement. The two incidents over the past couple of weeks are disappointing, but we do not believe they define our school district. We invite you to join us in vigilance and awareness of the boundaries that will ensure a safe, positive and successful learning environment for all students.

Dr. Heather Beck

Superintendent

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