Letter to the District #7 Community

July 24, 2023 

Dear District #7 family,  

Over the past year, we have encountered incidents of harassment based on sexual orientation, gender, and race within our school community. This behavior is not only deeply hurtful and disrespectful, but it also undermines the inclusive and welcoming environment we strive to create for all students, teachers, and staff. It is crucial that we come together as a community to address this issue head-on and foster a culture of respect, understanding, and acceptance.  

First and foremost, I want to express my empathy and support for any student who has been affected by these incidents. Discriminatory language should never be tolerated, and we are committed to ensuring that all students feel safe, valued, and supported within our district. To those who have experienced the pain caused by these slurs, I want to assure you that we take this matter seriously, and your voices will be heard. 

To address this issue effectively, at this evening’s Board of Education meeting, the District’s Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Dr. Cornelia Smith, and I will be presenting several initiatives which will outline action steps that the district will be taking to move toward increasing the sense of belonging in District #7 for ALL students. These steps will include: 

  1. Incorporating a DEI representative at each school who will work in cooperation with Dr. Smith to assess building-level data and introduce action steps to increase belonging and inclusivity for all students and staff. 
  1. Implementing a framework for addressing student behavior that actively promotes inclusivity. This will include mandatory reporting to parents of victims and parents of alleged perpetrators, and mandatory parent conferences when reports include hate speech or harassment due to sexism, genderism, or racism. 
  1. Establishing student and staff groups that provide a safe space for those from underrepresented populations to connect and increase their sense of belonging. 
  1. Offering additional avenues for reporting bullying, harassment, or intimidation of others.  

District #7 thrives on the diversity of our community, and by working together, we can create a school environment where everyone feels respected, valued, and safe.  

I encourage you to join me and the Board of Education in taking a stand against any form of discrimination and working towards a more inclusive future. Together, we can build a school community that embraces and celebrates our differences, fostering an environment where all students can thrive.  

More information about District #7’s plans for addressing these issues can be heard at tonight’s Board of Education meeting or by watching the broadcast on the District #7 Facebook page.   

Thank you for your unwavering support and dedication to our shared goal of creating an inclusive school community.  


Patrick Shelton, Ed.D.