It was wonderful to see so many alumni, families, students, and members of our faculty and staff at last Thursday's virtual Community Writers Series event with Paul Farber '01 and André Lee '89, who discussed the role monuments play in commemorating movements and history. In response to a student's question, André and Paul reflected on how structures on our campus can better represent the community's commitment to justice and equity, noting new artwork and physical connections to Germantown Avenue.
These dialogues continue to be powerful, collaborative forces in moving our Actions for Equity work forward. As outlined, six priorities drive our plan and progress as an anti-racist institution. Today, we are pleased to share updates on our priority to establish processes to ensure safety and accountability.
This summer, two working groups were formed—one to revise the Student and Family Handbook and another to create a bias-incident reporting process and website. While these resources are for our current students, families, faculty, and staff, we want to continue to share updates to our Action for Equity work with the full community.
Student and Family Handbook Working Group
The charge of the Student and Family Handbook Working Group was to revise the handbook to reflect our anti-racism commitments shared in the Actions for Equity plan and update language that addresses accountability, safety, care, and bias incident reporting. New and revised policies, which include an Anti-Racism Policy and updates to the Honor Code can now be found in the Student and Family Handbook (pages 5-6), located on the landing pages of our Veracross portals.
In an effort to uphold our commitment to racial equity, we added the following anti-racism policy:
Germantown Friends School is an anti-racist institution. GFS denounces white supremacy and all forms of racism, discrimination, harassment, hate speech or bias, e.g., microaggressions. We affirm unequivocally the human dignity and racial and/or ethnic identities and cultural expressions of all members of the GFS community.
Acts of racism, including the use of racist words or allowing acts of racism to persist, will not be tolerated at GFS. Accusations of racism are very serious and will be thoroughly and fairly investigated. Consequences will be handled on a case by case basis and will be determined by the Head of School and/or other person(s) she authorizes.
Bias Incident Reporting
A group of nine faculty and staff—the Bias Incident Reporting Team (BIRT)—met to develop a thoughtful bias-reporting process and identify factors to consider when responding to alleged acts of bias towards students.
This process now includes an online form for students, current parents/caregivers, faculty, and staff to share instances of bias against students. The form is available on the Veracross student, family, and employee portals. Upon receipt of a submission, BIRT will review, take the appropriate next steps regarding offending behaviors, and notify the submitter. Instances of bias that do not involve students should be reported to Human Resources.
More information about the bias reporting process can be found on the Actions for Equity page.
We will continue to share updates on this important work. Thank you for your continued commitment and partnership.
Head of School