Stephanie Gounder, Principal

Dear Cavalier Family:

Our campus’ participation in #BlackOutTuesday sparked a conversation around inequity faced by our Black students at YES Prep Brays Oaks. Our leadership team has read every comment. The comments have been difficult to read, but what is undoubtedly harder is the situation and experiences our students, alumni, and staff have experienced and continue to experience on our campus. We can and we will do better to support our Black families, staff, and students. We will work to regain the trust of all of our students, especially our Black students, and to create an experience that is more supportive, equitable, and just.

To our Black students: I am sorry for my role in the pain and negative experiences you have faced at YES Prep Brays Oaks. You have shared that many of you have been the target of racial slurs and the unacceptable and inexcusable use of the n-word. I should have done more to listen and evaluate how my policies, decisions, actions, words, and lack of action perpetuated pain for each and every one of you. I’m committed to listening, learning, and taking action for all members of the Black community on our campus.

To our Black staff: I can only imagine the pain and grief that you are feeling right now, and I am committed to doing better to serve you and our students. You have been a tremendous source of courage for our students in voicing their concerns. Thank you for everything that you’ve done and continue to do to advocate for our students and to push our campus to grow.

During the next few weeks, we will engage in a series of Town Halls centered around deeply listening to you about your experiences at Brays Oaks and dialoguing around action. This week, we will hold Town Halls for staff, students, and alumni to hear the voices of our Black students and to discuss proposed actions for how we can heal as a campus. We will also provide a space for families and parents to share experiences and provide feedback in the near future. While the responsibility of developing and following through with action lies upon our leadership, we must seek input and feedback from all members of the campus community. We have also released an anonymous survey for alumni and students to share more about their experiences and suggestions for how Brays Oaks can improve.

Our leadership team is committed to immediate and ongoing action in the pursuit of a more equitable experience for our Black students on campus. We will demonstrate zero tolerance for hateful language, like the n-word, and we will pursue the most serious consequence possible.  We will be the most aggressive we have ever been in immediately and severely addressing it. Members of our leadership team are also available for conversations to discuss any concerns you may have. I look forward to discussing these next steps with you in our dialogues in the weeks to come. This will not be the last time that you hear from me, and I will follow up with concrete proposed actions next week.

 

Stephanie Gounder
Principal, YES Prep Brays Oaks