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Haven Sit-in & Hate Crime

May 13, 2022

Dear District 65 Community -

I wanted to take this opportunity to alert you of a situation that occurred earlier today. By now you may have heard that a group of Haven Middle School students staged a sit-in as a way to peacefully protest district-wide staffing changes that were announced in late April. 

While the afternoon remained mostly peaceful, the situation did escalate with a large group of Haven students temporarily gathering outside and several leaving campus. After some time, school and district administrators were able to de-escalate the situation and calmly finish out the school day. We know our Haven students, as well as staff, are feeling a range of emotions as a result. The Haven team, with support from the district, is putting a plan in place to provide opportunities to debrief and provide support and healing on Monday.

Unfortunately, this incident took an upsetting turn this afternoon. Kingsley parents who were at the school reported finding three nooses hanging from trees in between Haven and Kingsley Elementary along with notes in support of Haven educators. District administrators and the Evanston Police Department were contacted. It was further reported that Haven students were seen allegedly chanting and carrying ropes to the location where the nooses were found. Evanston Police Officers are currently investigating the incident.

This is a hate crime and a deliberate and specific incidence of an outwardly racist act. It resounds with a tone of hate and hurt that will impact members of our entire community, namely Black and African American students, staff, and families who have experienced generations of harm. What began as a peaceful protest by students is now tainted with hate and is part of a string of racist actions that continue to be directed at district and school administrators.

When these situations occur, it further distances students, staff, and families from feeling like a part of their school community, from feeling safe at school, and feeling safe in the community at large. For this reason, we remain committed to our equity and anti-racism efforts. We are working with our mental health team to ensure opportunities will be available across the district on Monday to help any students who may need support in unpacking their emotions and feelings.

Our district, board, administration, and community will continue to fight racism in all forms. Institutionalized racism has been used in the past to intimidate and discourage minority leaders from disrupting institutionalized racism. It's important that we, as adults, model for our students how to have safe discourse when emotions are high.

We recognize that conversations about race at home and in the community are not easy for some to have but in order to be proactive and to prevent this type of behavior they are essential. Several resources are available on the District 65 website to provide support.

While I recognize this is upsetting news to begin your weekend, we wanted to be transparent about the incidents that occured today as we know they will be discussed and will have an impact on our community. Thank you for your continued support.

Unapologetically,

Dr. Devon Horton (he/him)

Superintendent