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To the editor: Brattleboro Union High School student council is writing this letter due to our shared concern of equity and accountability held within the leadership of our school district. This is a very small town and we do not wish to create a divide within the Brattleboro community. We only wish for our concerns to be heard and understood. We respectfully request our thoughts to be taken into consideration.

About two months ago we watched the video published by the Reformer, detailing the experience of Brattleboro Area Middle School student, Zane ("Student opens up about racial harassment at Brattleboro Area Middle School," Jan. 31). Sadly, none of us were shocked, which led to the collective realization of how “normalized” this experience is. We were disappointed that after the initial reactions, no further action was taken. To the point where people thought it necessary to create disrespectful signage in support of Zane, since both BAMS and BUHS admin did not publicly address the issue. This is but one example of how the administration fails to: one, recognize the severity of the issue at hand; and, two, take further action to ensure this kind of behavior (acts of racism) are not condoned. We wish to see more prompt responses to acts of racism. Starting by taking these issues seriously in correspondence with our four pillars at Brattleboro Union High School: relevance, respect, community, and responsibility.

As both students and members of this community we realize we do not lack diversity, but representation of diversity in leadership. The vast majority of councils, boards, and committees within our school district heavily lack diversity, even though our population does not. In the past, multiple members of the student council have felt very dismissed when voicing their concerns to both the board and administration. While in correspondence with certain board members some students have even felt disrespected. We ask that whenever and wherever decisions are being made that affect us students, appointed student representatives are present, and the rest of the student population is equally listened to when they voice their concerns. In the past, a few members of student council would attend school board meetings. This is a small and easy solution to our ask.

Lastly, based on many experiences and reports we have received on the inability of the new board to follow the protocols and policies put in place to make sure they are both equitable and held accountable, we ask for a third party review of their actions. This third party's only responsibility would be to judge the board's conduct and in no way should undermine them. We are disappointed by the unprofessional actions and dismissal of student opinions by both school boards. Our school board needs to support our schools and lead by example, not sit back and watch safely from a distance. If those in leadership do not set examples of what is and is not acceptable in our school how can we expect students to learn?

Again, thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We hope to see some change,

Breanna Tkaczyk, Matthew Gordon-Macey, Habame Scholz-Karabakakis, and Benjamin Berg on behalf of the BUHS student council

May 12