October 23, 2020 - Statement on Allegations of Racism in AAPS



Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent Statement
Friday, October 23, 2020

In the Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS), we stand firm against any and all acts of bias, bigotry and racism.

The AAPS has received the August 24, 2020, letter from the University of Michigan Civil Rights Litigation Initiative alleging racism at Pioneer High School. In the AAPS, we take this situation and the matters outlined in that letter very seriously. All of us are deeply disturbed by the content of the allegations.  We are committed to a full and thorough investigation of those matters as we understand the important value each child brings and are deeply committed to equity and opportunity for each and every student we serve.

In response, we have hired the law firm of Dykema Gossett to conduct a full and independent investigation of the matters set forth in the letter.  No findings or conclusions have been reached, as it is very early in the investigation. 

In addition, we take very seriously any and all concerns shared regarding racist attitudes and practices that exist anywhere in our AAPS organization, and we will ensure consistent and thorough processes for hearing and addressing concerns. We recognize that reporting requires courage and that it is critically important that students, staff and community members have a safe place to openly share their concerns and experiences. 

We encourage any member of our student body, staff, families and community who is aware of any concerns to reach out to our AAPS Helpline at 734-545-2321, hosted by Dr. Eaddy-Richardson, a competent, caring and respected counselor and advocate in the Ann Arbor community. In this way, we will be sure that all in our community have access to a professional who will listen in confidence and support with communicating concerns. This Helpline is a safe place where individuals can reach for support beyond the classroom and school.

A prior Superintendent statement from August 26th regarding the commitment of the AAPS to anti-racism and equity-centered practices is here; a Superintendent statement from June 3rd is here.

We are committed to address all situations of racism that may arise, without fear, so that our black and brown children, and all students, are fully supported.  We want all students to have every benefit to learn and thrive in our schools and so that all children are educated in inclusive and supportive classroom and school environments. The work to eliminate racist attitudes and practices in the AAPS is both a moral obligation required of each of us individually, as well as a collective imperative in our organization and across our community. In the AAPS, we are committed to carrying this work forward for every child and in every classroom across our system.