An Editorial by Priya Tahiliani, Superintendent of Public Schools
In adherence with the core values of the Everett Public Schools, and in defense of our students, staff, and families, I condemn the actions of Everett City Councilor Anthony DiPierro and ask that he resign from office effective immediately.
The racist communications that have recently come to light are staggering. They are the antithesis of everything we should stand for as a school district and as a community. Not only am I offended by the racist content of those communications, but I am deeply disappointed that less than a handful of our elected officials have responded.
For those of you who have not spoken up, your silence has been deafening. And for the students and community members who have had their ears peeled waiting to hear your reactions…or in this instance, the lack thereof…I feel even more strongly that my response must be all the louder and resounding for the absence of yours.
As a leader in this community, I want our students and our families to know that I hear their voices and I feel their pain. And as someone appointed to represent this community, I will never ever shy away from advocating on their behalf and for calling out what is right, as should be the case for all those who claim to represent the residents of Everett.
I do not hesitate in saying that this is within my purview. The City Council is essential to the school district’s budget process and shaping the educational experience of each and every student in the city. I am, thus, left to ask:
• Will all of our students receive a fair shake in this process?
,• Will bias influence decision-making, even to the faintest degree?
• Or even worse, has bias already influenced the budgeting and decision-making processes for our schools and our students? We have to do everything possible to make sure that the answer, at least from here on out, is an unequivocal No.
Calling these actions abhorrent is accurate but insufficient. As a leader and an educator, I am obliged to join those who are calling for action. We stand against this behavior, but we do not have the luxury of standing apart from it. This blinding hatred and racism is happening in our community. We can see that our students and staff are reeling from it. Words alone will fail us.
Speaking of words that are not accompanied by actions, Councilor DiPierro stated that he would be meeting with minority leaders in the community in order to have an open dialogue. Since me and members of my team have yet to hear from him, I am issuing my statement to him here publicly on behalf of myself and my team. Councilor DiPierro, I ask that you take responsibility for what you have done, that you step down from your seat, that you spend the next year working on yourself and making reparations, and that you return to your seat if and only when this diverse community deems you fit to represent them and votes you as such.
And to those elected officials who are remaining silent and turning a blind eye, even to our own students who are coming forward in protest, I implore you to do better and be better. Because our students deserve no less.