Approved by the Board of Trustees • January 2018
At The Park School of Baltimore, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion is the responsibility of every member of the community; the benefits of that work are an enriched society, a thriving community, and a brighter future for each individual.
Park commits to fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for learning and living. We seek to ensure that all aspects of school life — including curriculum, admission, retention, hiring practices, and support for students, families, and employees — reflect our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and will be diligently assessed and actively supported.
We recognize that our school exists in an ever-changing world, and that our understanding of, and support for, diversity, equity, and inclusion must grow and evolve. We bring students, families, employees, and guests of different backgrounds and experiences together to engage constructively in the life of the school and society. Learning at Park involves listening to and working with others, considering and embracing different points of view, and empathizing with and understanding multiple perspectives. Through open, honest dialogue and active, ongoing inquiry in an authentically diverse context, all members of our community gain awareness, wisdom, and the capacity to act as responsible, engaged citizens.
The Park School continually works in support of a diverse community of students, families, and employees while engaging in the many issues inherent to sustaining a genuinely equitable and inclusive environment for learning. In 2012, the Board of Trustees made diversity a key area of focus in the Strategic Plan to Launch the School’s Second Century, and approved a Board Statement on Diversity. These steps, shared with the community on the occasion of our Centennial, acknowledged our rich, 100-year history, and communicated clear priorities for the years to come. Further, the Strategic Plan elucidated specific diversity, equity, and inclusion action items involving personnel, hiring practices, professional development, curricular and co-curricular offerings, school culture — and even the creation of the Statement above.
Dear Park Community,
In Head of School Dan Paradis’ recent correspondence, he was clear: the national upwelling of calls for the dismantling of systemic racism, wherever it resides, is an imperative for Park School to critically examine our practices and do more and do better in our own anti-racist work. As citizens, we must effect change of the Black experience in our nation. As a school, we must effect change in the experience of our Black students, families, alumni, and employees. As parents, friends, educators, and colleagues, we must come together as a community of strength and purpose.
At the end of June, the 2019–20 Board of Trustees was joined by the incoming 2020–21 Trustees to discuss the community call for deliberate anti-racist action at Park. Together, we add our collective voices in support of Dan’s commitment, and in support of the work of the Park School administrative team, faculty, and staff as they advance Park’s anti-racist practice. As Dan has shared, and we have now discussed as a full Board, Park will enter the next school year with specific actionable commitments that reflect our community’s willingness to ask tough questions of ourselves, to lean into difficult conversations, and to effect change in both the short-term and in the future. These commitments will be shared with the community prior to the start of the coming school year.
In partnership with the senior administrative team, the Board has used both the Strategic Plan and the school’s Diversity Action Plan to guide its work in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Beyond developing Park’s Statement on DEI and expanding administrative leadership to include a Director of DEI, significant progress has been made in addressing multiple cultural perspectives and social justice in curricular and co-curricular programming as well as incorporating DEI into professional development and educational opportunities for employees and volunteer leadership, including the Board. While we recognize, appreciate, and build upon the dedication of the members of Park’s community across all constituencies that produced this work, we know that current and future work must continually prioritize racial justice and anti-racism. Furthermore, we acknowledge as Trustees the importance of pursuing our own anti-racist education and actions. In order to provide effective governance, we must address our own implicit biases, broaden and deepen our understanding of systemic racism, and actively partner with the school to ensure that Park lives its mission.
Recently, the Class of 2020 shared their own call to action with the community; and their voices have been joined by still more alumni, current students, parents, grandparents, faculty, and staff. Their letter, as Dan told the Board, is a gift to the school. Not only does it provide documentation of the lived experience of our Black Upper School students and their classmates, it exemplifies Park’s support of our students’ development into “confident questioners and responsible citizens of the world” — central to the Park School Mission. It is also a call for clear communication within our community regarding the depth and breadth of ongoing anti-racist work. Unequivocally, The Park School recognizes there is work to be done — and this work is built upon years of progress together as a community of students, parents, faculty, administrators, alumni, and trustees. The school must share its work more widely and more frequently — engaging partners, leveraging strengths, and welcoming critical assessments.
While Park will continue to address issues of equity and inclusion across the broad spectrum of the human experience, we cannot fail in this moment to address more explicitly the call for anti-racist programming and education — for our students, our faculty and staff, and for our families.
Black Lives Matter.
We, the Park School Board of Trustees 2019–20 and 2020–21, are committed to supporting and engaging in the work of racial justice and creating an anti-racist community. In our own households, we — alumni, parents, parents of alumni, and grandparents — commit to doing that work. As Trustees, we will hold the school accountable to do the work. And the school needs each of you to engage in this work now, and in the future. We will all grow and change as part of this commitment — and we will all benefit.
—The Park School Board of Trustees, joint 2019–20 and 2020–21 membership:
President of the Board of Trustees;
Immediate Past President of the Board;
Parent ’12, ’13, ’16, ’18, ’20
Vice President of the Board of Trustees;
Parent ’28, ’31
Park School Class of ’78
Parent ’14, ’17
Parent ’23, ’26, ’30
Andrew Foster Connors
Parent ’19, ’22
Parent ’23, ’24
Parent ’22, ’28, ’31
Park School Class of ’91; Parent ’30
Park School Class of ’06
Parent ’23, ’25
Parent ’17, ’19
Parent ’13, ’17, ’19, ’22
Park School Class of ’93; Parent ’29, ’31
Parent ’17, ’21
Philip “Pete” Sachs
Park School Class of ’63; Parent ’88, ’91; Grandparent ’21, ’24, ’27
Joseph “JM” Schapiro
Park School Class of ’87; Parent ’22, ’24
Parent ’22, ’26
Jane Frankel Sims
Park School Class of ’91; Parent ’20, ’25
Parent ’22, ’22, ’24, ’24
Park School Class of ’04
Park School Class of ’87; Parent ’21, ’23
Park School Class of ’81
Parent ’25, ’25
Ex Officio Trustees
Immediate Past President, Parents’ Association; Parent ’19, ’21, ’23
President, Parents’ Association; Trustee 2019–20; Parent ’26
Park School Class of ’20; Immediate Past President, Student Government
Park School Class of ’21;
President, Student Government
Park School Class of ’04; President, Alumni Council
Immediate Past Faculty Representative
Faculty Representative; Parent ’20, ’22
Today is Juneteenth — a holiday that, for many of us, has just now entered our consciousness. My work today includes ensuring that the significance of the day is not merely acknowledged in passing, but is part of the meaningful and relentless elevation of anti-racist work in our community and in our country.
I write to you as a follow-up to my previous letter concerning the death of George Floyd and other senseless killings of Black citizens in our country.
Over the last several weeks, I have heard from many of you — current students, parents, faculty, and alumni (including an overwhelming majority of the Class of 2020). In your messages, you have expressed your desire to see, and be a part of, action within the school and in the broader community. I acknowledge that those of us who identify as white are learning and are working to understand the implications of whiteness more deeply; and I know it is critical that, as an institution, we take the time to reflect on our own practices and do more and do better in our anti-racist work.
That work is already underway. At the administrative and faculty levels, we have had multiple conversations over these last few weeks, beginning a comprehensive review of all aspects of school life — curriculum, scheduling, hiring, professional development, culture, safety, parent support, policies and procedures, and more — in order to identify specific actions and opportunities.
We have also reached out to a broader community of independent schools and diversity practitioners. First and foremost, we want to be thinking about the lived experience of our own students, employees, and families — but we also want to make sure we are considering other similar institutions and how they are challenging themselves to do more. I must acknowledge the work of Courtney Rollins, Park’s Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). In addition to his work directly with K–12 students and faculty over the last several years, Courtney has kept all aspects of DEI practice in front of the senior administrative team.
In the interest of continuing to provide resources to our community, I want to share a few writings that you might consider. First, Park graduate Glenn Singleton ’82 is a leader in the field of uncovering personal and institutional biases that prevent all people, and especially people of color, from reaching their fullest potential. He is the author of Courageous Conversations About Race, a resource that we have used in our work here at Park. Alumnus R. Eric Thomas ’99 recently wrote a compelling piece entitled It Does Not Matter If You Are Good — On Omar Jimenez, George Floyd, Christian Cooper and the myth of being non-threatening. Eric writes of having to always be prepared to smile and to make sure white people know he is good. We, at Park, cannot ignore the fact that he, of course, must have had to learn and practice that behavior while a student here. And this week, Park parent Dr. Chris Lebron wrote a powerful op-ed — White America Wants Me to Conform. I Won’t Do It — in the New York Times about his experiences in life and, specifically, in academia, navigating predominantly white institutions of higher learning.
I hope you will engage with the pieces above — especially given the close connections of the authors to our community.
At The Park School of Baltimore, the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion is the responsibility of every member of the community; the benefits of that work are an enriched society, a thriving community, and a brighter future for each individual. This introduction to Park School’s Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion establishes an important and broad expectation of each of us.
I write to you today to not only affirm this expectation in light of the nationwide reckoning regarding race, but to explicitly say to, and for, our community: every white person — administrator, teacher, staff member, parent, student, and alumnus — must take anti-racist action. We have to listen. We must support one another. We have to get uncomfortable, sometimes angry. We must do this work on behalf of all current and future Park School students, and for our society.
I hope you will continue to provide your feedback. We teach our kids to be critical thinkers. We teach our students to advocate for what is right.
I look forward to sharing more about our work as a school later in the summer. In the meantime, I hope you follow the charge that I gave the Class of 2020 — in the words of U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights leader John Lewis, make “good trouble.”
Head of School
The message below was shared last Friday with parents, Upper School students, and faculty and staff, and today with alumni, parents of alumni, grandparents, and friends. I know that our community members are hurting deeply, are frightened, and are angry.
Park teachers, who are themselves processing the deeply distressing news and ongoing events, are being provided the time and space to reflect, share, and gather resources that are guiding the conversations and actions within our student community. In turn, they are engaging in age-appropriate conversations with our students that build upon our enduring — and essential — commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice.
Friday, May 29, 2020
Good morning, Park families.
I am writing to you now with a deep sense of sadness, frustration, and rage as I read about more senseless killings of black citizens of our country. My son and I have spoken of little else in the last two days, and I hope those of you, like me, who do not identify as black are listening and learning (again) about our crucial, indeed essential, role in combating racism. We who enjoy the unearned privilege of race in this society must stand up in whatever way we can. At a moment in our history when we are called upon to recognize our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and our shared purpose in acting in unison, we are tragically reminded that our friends, colleagues, and loved ones who identify as black or brown carry a burden that I, for one, as a white man, can never fully understand. Please, pay attention for the sake of all of our children.
Below, find a link to a set of resources shared with me by one of my former students. In an effort to take even one small step in creating a better future for your child and for all children, please review this list of resources. Discover a new text or film or testimonial that might move your consciousness or, better still, might plant a seed in your child. Those seeds we plant, whether through the curriculum at Park or in the choices you make at home, will lead to positive change. We at Park believe that our students, your children, can and will create positive change in the world. Please take an active role in this moment of grief and of pain for so many.
Head of School