Today, the Princeton Day School Board of Trustees and Head of School Paul Stellato sent the following companion letters to PDS families, faculty and staff, alumni, and former trustees outlining extensive action steps being taken to banish racism, intolerance, and hate at the School.
To the Princeton Day School Community,
I want to begin by thanking the Black students, parents, alumni, and faculty who have participated in six town halls during the last two weeks. Your stories, questions, and concerns speak clearly to your commitment to helping Princeton Day School become a truly equitable and inclusive community. After each town hall, I have heard from Black students, parents, and alumni, each of whom applauded the effort to engage members of our community and offered ways to help us move forward. Many have shared additional, wrenching stories of having experienced racism and intolerance within our School. The courage to speak out and speak up has distinguished each one of them.
I am aware of the daunting task ahead of us: to ensure that all members of our community—students, parents, faculty, and alumni—enjoy the full benefit of membership in that community, and feel valued, known, and celebrated. As we come together in pursuit of that goal, I believe we will accomplish it.
I also know that without clear, courageous action, this effort will come to very little. We have not come this far together to pause; we cannot abandon a journey whose goal is both attainable and essential. Although we cannot conceive now of every step we will take, we have to move forward, understanding that while the path may be grueling, our commitment to seeing it to its end cannot waver for a moment.
To support and guide the work ahead, Princeton Day School has retained the services of Olive Branch Educators and its Founding Director, Dr. Diana Artis. Dr. Artis will work closely with faculty, parents, students, alumni, the Leadership Team, and the Board of Trustees, to ensure
that we engage as many members of our community as possible and take full advantage of the opportunities present in this ambitious initiative. Her work will begin within the next several weeks.
To begin, I have called for the review of policies and programs in the following areas:
● The PreK-12 curriculum: to ensure that the program fully incorporates the experiences and contributions of Black and other underrepresented communities
● Standards of conduct, honor policies, and handbooks: to see that all expectations are fair and applied equally; and that discriminatory conduct of any kind is not tolerated
● Anti-racism and cultural competency education for students, faculty, staff, and parents: to provide a shared language and understanding of the responsibilities of membership in a diverse community
● Hiring, retention, and evaluation policies and programs: to increase and enhance the diversity of faculty, staff, and leadership across the School; and to make available resources to retain faculty and staff of color
● Student life, college counseling, and athletics: to provide equal opportunity and benefit of these essential programs for all students
● Admissions and retention: to build a diverse pool of candidates, allowing school enrollment to reflect more fully the communities from which its students are drawn
● Parent and family outreach: to welcome and connect Black families and families of color to Princeton Day School
Further, to engage Black alumni, the School will create a Black Alumni Council, providing a formal way for them to participate in the life of the School and serve as mentors and guides for Black students and alumni.
In the coming weeks, I will gather a task force of faculty, staff, school leaders, students, recent graduates, and parents to begin the review of the areas listed above. Reporting to the Board and me at specific intervals throughout the school year, the task force will work closely with Dr. Artis, drawing upon all the resources our parent, faculty and staff, and student communities have to offer.
Together with Board of Trustees’ commitments detailed in the companion letter, the items above constitute the most sweeping, coordinated effort in our School’s history. It seeks to strike at the heart of our School’s challenge: banishing racism, intolerance, and hate. It strives to deepen the connections to Princeton Day School of all students, parents, faculty, and alumni. It hopes to inspire the entire community to act knowledgeably, lead thoughtfully, share generously, and contribute meaningfully.
Paul J. Stellato
Head of School
To the Princeton Day School Community,
In the past few weeks, through a series of town halls and individual conversations, the Board of Trustees of Princeton Day School has heard from many of our Black and Black self-identified parents, students, alumni, and faculty about their painful experiences of racism at our School. We have listened carefully and we are committed to cultural and institutional change to fight racism at PDS. We deeply apologize that our School has failed in that part of its mission to provide the kind of support and environment of respect for our Black students and faculty that they needed. As a Board we should have understood better the importance and magnitude of the impact that systemic racism has had on our Black students, alumni, and faculty. We are now prepared to take action.
Recognizing this, the Board of Trustees is committed to combating racism and any form of hatred and intolerance at Princeton Day School. We will make this a core mission in the months and years to come. We must, of course, begin with our own self-evaluation and education, consulting with experts and members of our community, and we need to focus on increasing the representation of Black members on our board. Only then can we come to better understand how and why we allowed racism to exist. Through a critical look at every aspect of our school community, we will strive to root out racism and instill anti-racist practices.
We have also charged the Head of School and the School leadership to make combating racism, hatred, and intolerance at the School a critical goal in the upcoming year and beyond, and we will work with them to realize their plans. We have full confidence that Paul Stellato and his team have heard the concerns of our Black community, and that, in consultation with our Black alumni, parents, faculty, and students, they are committed to executing a strong plan of action for change.
We applaud the appointment of Anthony McKinley as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and a member of the Leadership Team as an important first step. The Head of School and the Leadership Team are now announcing that ambitious plan of action, which the Board has reviewed and endorsed. We will need the help of our entire school community to partner with us in this challenging journey to make certain that everyone benefits from all aspects of the PDS experience. We are at the beginning of a hard process of cultural and institutional change. With the full participation of all members of our Princeton Day School community, we can make it happen.
Dr. Rebecca W. Bushnell '70
Chair, Board of Trustees