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2/17/22: Letter from Superintendent Clemens and School Board President Newkirk regarding River Ridge Student Walkout

February 4, 2022

*Update February 17, 2022*: Life Skills students were erroneously previously mentioned as being "particularly impacted" by the student protests. We apologize for this unintended harm and did not mean to imply that the Life Skills students were the cause of the on-campus protest cancellation. We needed the on-campus protests to stop because they were disrupting the learning and work environment.

Dear NTPS family,

Our district is committed to creating a compassionate, equitable, and inclusive school environment. This week, River Ridge High School students sent a clear message that we have work to do. While the student walkout was a non-school–sanctioned event, we understand there are many unanswered questions and ongoing concerns in our district. Listening to student voices and collaborating with students, families, staff, and our community is a critical component in moving forward to improve our schools.

We want to express appreciation to those who have shared their concerns with school and district administrators this week. Engaging in respectful, compassionate conversations around equity and inclusion in our schools is vital work. We look forward to continuing these conversations in the days ahead and finding a way for our school community to heal.

NTPS investigates all allegations of racial harassment, sexual harassment, and/or assault reported by our students. Harm has occurred in our school district. We are listening to student feedback on the investigation process and reviewing opportunities to update our protocols. NTPS has a draft response for all short-term goals presented by the students who participated in the walkout. We will continue to work with the representative group of students. Our staff remains dedicated to developing strong relationships with our students so that they feel safe at school, and safe sharing their concerns.

School policy allows students to peacefully protest, as long as they do not interfere with normal school operations. We have honored that right this week. However, student chanting has become disruptive to the work and learning environment of staff and students. Therefore, we will no longer allow students who are participating in the walkout to protest on our campus. Beginning on Monday, February 7, 2022, all students on campus are expected to attend classes as assigned. 

Within the next week, we will finalize a plan to provide students, staff, and families with a safe space to have their concerns heard. Our Director of Equity and Languages, Dr. Antonio Sandifer, will coordinate Community Café events and share these opportunities with our NTPS families. In addition, we will provide all students with the opportunity to have trained advocates present during investigations regarding sexual assault, racism, and disciplinary conversations. We will also provide additional mental health counseling services to support students.

As a compassionate community we know the importance of treating others with respect and kindness. We will use the events of this week to continue to improve our district, make needed changes, and embrace this opportunity to become better as a learning community.


NTPS Superintendent Deb Clemens and School Board President David Newkirk