Superintendent Message - September 2020

Dr. Jon Holmen

The start of this school year brought with it complexities, changes, and yes, some frustrations. Starting the school year with the majority of students learning remotely challenged our District to rethink how to implement school in the most effective manner. The monumental efforts by hundreds of staff members and administrators over the summer to prepare for remote learning was tremendous. In addition, our Special Services department had to interpret and implement agency guidance on the provision of special education services. I am so proud of our administration and staff for their dedication and implementation of both remote and in-person learning services for our students with special needs. Lake Washington has been a regional leader in this area even though it has not been an easy task.

While planning for the start of the year was complex, I also need to recognize the climate of racial injustice and unrest that our country is experiencing. As a district, we will never condone violence of any type and the violence we have seen perpetrated by law enforcement officers in a number of incidents across the country is to be condemned and cannot be an acceptable part of our society. I have publicly stated that while we are committed to each and everyone of our 31,000+ students, I proudly recognize that the lives, experiences, and outcomes of our black and brown students matter to our organization and furthermore, they matter to me. 

Throughout August, I have worked with our administration and staff related to our commitment to equity, racial equity, and inclusion. This work is not simple nor is there a “one-time fix.” It takes a commitment by the entire organization and community to actually make substantive change. The change we are targeting is both at the individual and systems level. It is important to note that each student deserves to feel safe, welcome and included in their school. No student should have to set a piece of themselves aside to succeed in our schools. We recognize and see the different races, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds of our students. It is one of the things that makes our district so special.

As an organization, we are focused on addressing racial equity, equity, and inclusion at the individual, team and system levels. Each individual has a professional obligation to grow in their understanding of how they can work toward creating more equitable outcomes for our students. Each team/group working together also has an obligation to ensure their work and decisions do not lead to further marginalization of any group of students. Finally, we are focused on system level issues because we know as we adjust our systems to lift all students to excellence, it will leave lasting change. 

I cannot accept lower standards in outcomes or experience for any of our students. As an organization we are committed to adjusting our practices, systems, and supports to eliminate predictable outcomes based on race, income level, ability, or any other factor. Each of our students deserves the opportunity to access our rigorous mission and vision of graduation and future readiness.

I am proud to partner with our staff and community on these efforts to truly demonstrate our values in our actions and outcomes. If you are interested in learning more about our District efforts related to racial equity, equity and inclusion, please visit our recently created “Leading with Equity” webpage located on our district website.

Thank you,

Dr. Jon Holmen, Superintendent