July 3, 2021
Dear Elk Grove Unified Students, Families and Staff,
This past week, a troubling incident occurred involving two EGUSD employees and the display of a Confederate flag in a district vehicle. The flag was seen by one of our parents who thankfully reported the sighting to district officials. The found flag was promptly confiscated and as previously noted in a district statement, the identified employees were immediately placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, which immediately removes the threat of further misconduct to our students, staff and the community.
As the District continues to gather information on the matter, I want to make it clear that the action of these individuals is not condoned by our District and any such act of hate speech will not be tolerated, period. The display of the Confederate flag in or on any District property is a display of aggressive disrespect and disregard toward our students, families, staff, and community members who identify as Black/African American and is also in direct violation of district policy [Board Policy 5145.9 Protecting Students from Hate-Motivated Behavior].
On Friday, the EGUSD Parent Coalition together with Black/African American student leaders held a press conference to speak out against what happened stating that while we have made progress as a district to rid ourselves of rooted and systemic racism in our schools, “this was a step backwards.” As superintendent, I agree with this assessment and in listening to the concerns expressed, I along with my Cabinet and staff stand with each student, parent, fellow staff members and community members who were negatively impacted by the racist act. As was noted by those speaking at the press conference, our District has made notable progress, but this exemplifies that we have much more we need to do – and we will – together.
Our District will not be silent on these issues and if you/we see something, say something. We will take all reports seriously and will act with speed and purpose to ensure that investigations are completed swiftly and thoroughly, rooting out barefaced and dubious acts of racism within our District. I plan to have further discussions with our students, parents, staff and community to continue our work of transformational change and will be looking for areas that call for immediate improvement, including our employee screening, hiring, evaluation and disciplinary practices.
With much hope and optimism that lies ahead for our students, we cannot let this single act of hate stop our progress. Instead, we will shift greater attention to our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to continue building trust and empathy among the students we educate, families and community members we partner with and staff we employ.
Christopher R. Hoffman