Rockland BOCES District Superintendent/Chief Executive Officer Dr. Sarah A. Chauncey and Chief Operating Officer/Deputy District Superintendent Dr. Mary Jean Marsico shared the following message with the school community regarding the verdict in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd:

“At Rockland BOCES, we know that the coming weeks may be deeply challenging, and we recognize the impacts and stress for many across our community, particularly for Black and Brown people.

Regardless of one’s views on the Chauvin verdict, the reality is that members of our school community have been bearing the burden of centuries of inequitable treatment, and we should be sensitive to that injustice. We should also be mindful of the role we can play in addressing inequities and injustice in our society.

In the days ahead, our students and families will be watching and looking for ways to process the violence, loss, and fear that they are experiencing. Rockland BOCES will continue to provide a structured forum for our students’ young voices. We encourage our students to use their voices to promote positive change in our communities and in our nation.

The racism and violence that has been highlighted in recent tragic incidents in Minnesota, Illinois, Georgia and Wisconsin may be widely discussed among some students in our schools. As appropriate, and as they are comfortable, teachers will give students the opportunity to process their feelings, how this feels to them personally, and how they are impacted by having the eyes of the world on our nation. Understand that every educator will approach this differently.

Peaceful protests are one of the foundations of our democracy. Some students may feel called to participate in collective actions being organized around the region, but Rockland BOCES also recognizes our primary need and your primary desire to keep students safe.

Violence is never the solution. In turbulent times, self-reflection and education can be keys to positive change.

Neither the loss of a life nor a courtroom verdict should be catalysts for unrest. We must address injustices peacefully and lawfully. Real change starts with each of us, and we must hold ourselves and each other accountable.

We commit to you that Rockland BOCES will continue our work to educate on diversity, enhance equity, and embrace inclusivity in our school community.”