The George Floyd Case: A Letter from Superintendent Keith Kelly and the Mayfield Board of Education

April 20, 2021

Dear Mayfield Families, Students, Staff and Community,

We are at yet another critical point in our communities and nation regarding the issues of social justice, race relations, civility, respect, understanding and care for one another. Upon the death of George Floyd nearly one year ago, I wrote to you reminding us all of the ‘Mayfield Way” and the unbreakable foundations of our diverse community.  A “Way” that binds us together through giving, empathy and sense of community. I asked us to stand in solidarity and in support of all those who were heartbroken and saddened by the senseless death of Mr. Floyd. We are once again reminded of the bigger issues of social justice - where we have been, where we are and how far it is we have to go. We rose to the occasion then and we need to do it again. 

As the verdict in the case of George Floyd nears, we must once again dig down deep and have the courage to express and display empathy regardless of the outcome. As we work to support those seeking justice, we must also support the vast majority of fine officers who put their lives on the line every day. We must remember to not paint each other and all of those who protect us with the same brush. Civility and respect must carry the days, weeks and months ahead. We must share the message that violence and the tearing down of one another will only serve to drown out the voices of those who truly care about the issues of equity, equality, access, justice, change and understanding. Our sons and daughters, our students and others are listening and watching. How we as a Mayfield City Schools community react to the verdict and intentionally move forward will have a lasting impact. 

I want you to know that we, as a school district, are preparing to respond in a way that puts dignity and respect first. Our plan includes the following. 

  • A message to students that we will treat one another with understanding, dignity and respect and that acts of violence, intolerance and destruction will not be tolerated. 

  • A message to students that we adults are here to listen and provide help when needed.

  • An understanding of the high emotion and potential volatility of the situation.

  • Discussions with student leaders about meaningful, purposeful and lawful expression in schools.

  • Working closely with local law enforcement as partners to ensure safety for all and peaceful expression. 

  • Providing a place within the schools for students to express their emotions with counselors, teachers or administrators. If need be, we are prepared to engage outside agencies to help. 

  • High visibility of staff and administrators in buildings. 

As important as everything is above, we need your help. Each of us has to take account of our own actions and attitudes toward others during this time. Many of our students are confused by what they are seeing in cities across this great nation. It is our obligation as a school and a community to continue to help our young people sort out right from wrong and justice from injustice, by talking openly and honestly with them - as we should with one another. We, as leaders of our schools, classrooms, businesses, cities and families must continue to model the virtues of dignity and respect for all.  

We need every parent to encourage their students to act with civility and dignity even if outraged by the outcome. We need every student to first care for one another and be a friend as you so often do. And, we need all Mayfield staff to put aside their own feelings for a time, and focus on the health and well-being of students as you most often do. Young people need other young people to listen. Young people also need adults to listen with understanding. 

Our school district consists of students of all colors and creeds who come from more than 30 countries - something to be celebrated for sure. Let us not let whatever happens in the Floyd case divide us. Instead, let it be a reason to come to know and better understand each other. That is the “Mayfield Way”.

A year ago, I shared this quote I received from a Mayfield graduate who attended the University of Chicago. To me, it says it all. 

 “Mayfield has played a huge role in my understanding of some of the systemic and profound issues that impact students all across the country and I hope that it can continue to do that for future students. As leaders of the community and role models to the students in your district, I would hope that you come out and remind students, especially Black students, that they are safe, valued, and empowered. Moreover, I would hope that by making such a stance public, you can help remind parents and other adults in the community that we are not immune to these issues and all have a role in making our community better.”

And finally, I end once again with these words. 

During this time of unrest, our unity sends an important message to our youth. We will unite around displays of empathy and acts of decency. Moshin Hamid wrote, “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” And, the great Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere.”  We all must be part of the solution.

With great respect and admiration for our community,

 Dr. Keith Kelly, Superintendent of Schools                                                                                         
Mr. Ronald Fornaro,  Board President
Jimmy Teresi, Board Vice President
Sue Groszek, Board Member
George Hughes, Board Member
Al Hess, Board Member

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