June 22, 2021
Dear D219 Students and Families,
Several weeks ago, Niles Township High School District 219 put up large "Hate Has No Home Here" banners at both Niles North and Niles West. We did this to send the message to our school community that we want all of our students to feel emotionally safe and welcome in our schools, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation/gender identity, or any other signifier that any individual student identifies with.
Because we have an incredibly diverse group of students, representing all parts of the world and every conceivable ideology and belief system, we want to provide an environment where ALL our students feel emotionally safe in our schools and therefore can concentrate on the teaching and learning that is our reason for being.
Over the past several weeks we have been receiving many comments of concern from both Jewish and Muslim families telling us they do not believe that their students are being emotionally supported or made to feel safe in our schools. With the recent flare-ups of violence related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have had students and families ask our teachers and our schools to “address” the conflict. We have had other families and community members tell us that it is not our job as the local public high school to “address” problems in other parts of the world over which we have no control. Yet other family members and community members tell us that even bringing up the conflict is too divisive, and therefore, we should not talk about it at all, unless it can be done in a controlled, responsible and even-handed way.
We want all of our students to feel safe and welcome in our schools.
We know we cannot control what happens outside our community, much less in other parts of the world. However, we can control how we treat each other in Niles Township High School District 219.
We hear our Muslim and Jewish families, as we hear our Black families, Indigenous families, Latinx families, Asian families and all families who are concerned.
We categorically reject anti-Semitism, and any acts or hateful speech against Jewish people.
We categorically reject Islamophobia, and any acts or hateful speech against Muslim people.
Unfortunately, hate crimes against people based on their identity are increasing across the board.
We categorically reject anti-Blackness, anti-Asian hate, and any other kinds of hateful acts or rhetoric based on a person’s religion, personal beliefs, race, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation/gender identity, political affiliation, etc.
Hate has no home here at D219.
What does feeling safe in our schools mean? Different people have different ideas of what “feeling safe” means, and there is no simple answer.
Our families are asking us to do more to make their children feel emotionally safe and to publicly state our support. Let us reiterate: we support all our families and the diverse cultures they represent. In order to be responsive to the needs of our students and families, we plan to invite groups to talk with us about what specific actions we can take and programs we can develop to better meet their needs. We will share more details in the near future.
Superintendent of Schools
Niles West Principal
Niles North Principal