August 15 2017

Burlington Superintendent of Schools Pens Open in Wake of Charlottesville Violence


Burlington Superintendent of Schools Eric Conti penned an open letter to Burlington students in the wake of the incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

On Saturday a demonstration by white nationalists and neo-Nazis that had started the night before erupted in violence as they clashed with counter-protesters. Later in the day a man drove a Dodge Challenger into a group of counter-protesters, injuring at least 19 and killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, was arrested for the crime and charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and one count of hit-and-run. Media outlets report that Fields has a history of speaking positively about Nazism and Adolf Hitler.

Tragically, there were more deaths on Saturday in conjunction to the demonstration. Virginia State Police Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates were killed when their helicopter, which was being used to conduct surveillance of the rally, crashed.

In his letter Conti said that last week he was in the area of Charlottesville.

“It was heartbreaking to hear that a city I often enjoy was being violated by visiting members of hate groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacist organization,” he said. “That peace-seeking people were killed impacted my thoughts even further. How do we maintain a community of learners, rich in diversity, while there are groups of adults spewing hate and other adults attempting to normalize this heinous behavior? I wrote to you earlier in the year and I want to back to some of those words.”

Conti then quoted from his earlier letter.

“In my opinion, adults simply need to look inside our classrooms and learn from you. I see classrooms where everyone is accepted regardless of faith, culture, ability, economic standing, and other differences.”

Conti continued by saying that in Burlington Public Schools all members of the faculty and administration work to foster a safe and inclusive environment and that students should feel secure in all of the school buildings.

“My strong belief is that any act of hate or violence against one of us (staff or student) is an act against all of us,” he said. “We need to remain united in our support of one another because the only way that hate and intolerance wins is if we let it divide us. So please know, that we look forward to your return in a few sort weeks and that we continue to put your emotional and physical safety at the very top of our priority list.”

You can read the full letter here.


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