Milton educators, activists plan march for racial justice June 19

Following Milton Public Schools Administration’s handling of an incident involving the recording and weaponizing of a middle school teacher’s lesson, the Milton Educators Association and community allies have planned a rally and march for racial justice for Friday, June 19.

The Action on Anti-Racism and Racial Justice will begin at 5 p.m. at Kelly Field, where there will be a speaking program, including students, educators, parents, and other community members.

Pending final town approvals, the march will proceed past Pierce Middle School and end at Milton High School. The MEA joined with Courageous Conversations Toward Racial Justice and Milton for Social Justice to plan the event.

The MEA issued the following statement:

“On June 5, Pierce Middle School teacher Zakia Jarrett was told by central administration that she was being placed on paid leave. The MEA immediately responded to the situation and was angered to learn that a 13-second recorded snippet of one of Ms. Jarrett’s lessons was being circulated to create the impression that she was somehow not acting responsibly as she discussed race in a literature course.

The MEA found the district’s response to not only be insulting to Ms. Jarrett and her professionalism, but also indicative of the systemic racism with which the entire country is grappling. Furthermore, the district's handling of the situation compromised the safety of an educator.

Later that Friday, the district withdrew its decision to place Ms. Jarrett on leave. But nearly an entire week went by before the district responded to this situation in a way that conveyed how its actions let down all of the students and educators. The district’s message still fell short of what the MEA believed would have been an acceptable apology that acknowledged the full impact of this incident.

The MEA supports the district’s decision to investigate the violation of policy when an individual recorded and distributed the lesson. The person responsible for trying to weaponize a teacher’s lesson must face appropriate consequences.

The MEA believes that public education plays a vital role in creating a more just, equitable, and caring society. Educators want to bring this episode and its implication out into the community not just to denounce racism, but to commit publicly to taking the steps to create schools where the topics of racial and social justice are handled intentionally and with great care regarding the safety of educators and students.

Students, educators, parents, and the community should feel safe and supported in having the honest and difficult conversations necessary to produce real change and understanding.

The MEA invites all who are committed to positive social change to join this greater movement and be part of this one small action.”

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