As many of you may know, last night’s Board of Education meeting was interrupted by the disgusting intrusion of a “Zoom Bomb.” This consisted of horrible racist language delivered by a group of approximately five as yet unidentified individuals. Sadly, it occurred during the portion of the agenda that was intended to celebrate and honor one of our own students’ as a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal – an especially high national honor that demonstrates truly extraordinary achievement.
We apologize to all of you – especially those of you in attendance – that this occurred, and we are working on securing our future procedures to try and prevent the technological ability of anyone from doing this again. Even more so, to see this bitter ugliness randomly directed to another human being – a student, no less – solely attributed to her race, serves as a sad reminder that our own community is not immune from issues of racism, violence and hate. While these perpetrators may or may not have local connections, their bigotry and ignorance were able to infiltrate our lives very directly last night and destroy an otherwise momentous occasion. The District’s Safety and Security and IT Departments in conjunction with Scottsbluff Police Department are aggressively investigating to determine those responsible.
Included in Monday night’s agenda was Board consideration of the formation and development of Student Diversity Organizations at both the high school and middle school. The Board unanimously approved this proposal. The timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. These groups are an extension of our existing District Diversity Team, made up of both staff and community representatives. This is a featured element of our districtwide professional development work and all we continue to do related to trauma informed and restorative practices.
As adopted by the Nebraska State Board of Education on August 3, 2018, “Equity requires that…opportunities and outcomes exist for all Nebraskans, including but not limited to, and unrestricted by race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, or political affiliation.” And, furthermore, the Nebraska Department of Education asserts for all public school districts, “Equity efforts will ensure that all students are known, heard, and supported while having access to the opportunities and resources needed to be ready for success…” So, across our State, all school districts are working on these common ideals.
With these values in mind, as well as the commitment statements issued by all schools and our Board of Education, we are prioritizing our resources at this time to identify and bring justice to those who were involved in this awful display of bigotry on Monday night. While we in no way intend to discount other potential examples of such behavior in our greater community, we believe we need to demonstrate our absolute commitment to combating such racism within our schools and, specifically, this public disruption and the emotional distress it caused for many who were personally present or viewed it during the meeting’s broadcast.
It is especially important that we ask your help in providing us any information that might lead to the apprehension of those responsible. Please contact me, any school administrator, or the Scottsbluff Police Department with any information. You may also contact us using our “See Something, Send Something” App or via our webpage. Your help may well be necessary in order for us to find those responsible.
Rick Myles, Superintendent