If I Could Speak

Dear Dr. Pollio,

The lack of accessibility the community has to provide public input at this moment in history is deeply concerning. On top of that, there is ample evidence that parents and educators who raise concerns internally are threatened or punished behind the scenes. Further evidence shows that when racial bias is investigated, nothing is done to the abuser. This not only sends a message that this type of behavior is okay, but puts the whistleblower in grave danger of repeated targeting, bullying, threats, and more. This pattern only allows the racism, gaslighting, abusive, toxic disease to flourish.

What is it that causes JCPS to lack the ability to successfully root out racial bias and cover-ups in the district? Could it be their own internal investigation department can’t even recognize their own bias?

On 8/7/20, I forwarded a text message I had received to Ms. Renn. It included the name and school of the white teacher who sent the threatening message, as well as the white Maupin teacher who received it.

I learned that as of 8/28/20, no one has followed up with the victim to confirm the validity of this complaint, despite urgent warnings in our email that this particular message has the potential to go viral.

The district has shown NO interest in proactively addressing complaints of racism by this teacher, despite repeated concerns that she is a danger to her students, of whom, only 16% are white. For a district that kicked off opening days of school with one of the best keynote speeches your employees had witnessed in a long time, and who broadcasts the message that racial equity is the ONLY thing, this disconnect is concerning.

I and others have tried everything we can think of to encourage you to work with us to authentically address these systemic discrimination issues, but instead it seems like you have chosen to ignore our urgent pleas, close off channels of communication, while continuing to kick these problems down the road. District employees come and go, as do parents and students. If you can kick these problems down the road, perhaps we (and the problems) will go away.

I am sending this message to you in advance of publishing it, just as I did the screenshot of the “Teachable Moment” above. I wanted to give you one last opportunity to correct this oversight before the public becomes aware of this teacher’s prior infractions, learns how the district was complicit in allowing her to continue her path of destruction, and their gaze becomes fixed on JCPS.

Should you fail to act, I would not be surprised if an allied community were to mobilize, not only to denounce the tax increase, but to call for your resignation. That would be unfortunate, but after spending time speaking with those who have been in the trenches with the likes of Anne Braden, Lewis Coleman, and many others like them STILL in the trenches with us, such as Gracie Lewis, Maddie ??, Nancy D’Matra, and Barbara Boyd, it’s definitely something I could see happening.

Unless you work with leaders from the Coalition for the People’s Agenda, you can expect a call for a vote of no confidence in your leadership in the near future.

It’s time for some swift, intentional, dramatic changes, not only to the student assignment plan, but to a myriad of intertwined pieces. And Dr. Pollio, you are in the perfect position to make urgent, abolitionist, morally just moves right now. 

The question is, will you? Please be on the lookout for a list of demands from the Coalition for the People’s Agenda. If you are interested in having a shot at the tax increase passing, I encourage you to take us up on coalition leaders’ urgent offer that was emailed to you on 8/7/20.

Thank you,

Gay