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SAAS Board Task Force

Dear SAAS Community,

In the past few days, we’ve received a steady stream of feedback and questions in response to our decision to suspend the use of off-duty Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers on the Seattle Academy campus.

We’d like to take this opportunity to address those questions, and to hopefully provide greater clarity regarding the goals and process of the Board Task Force that will be assessing and making recommendations for how to best address the well-being and safety of our students, our faculty, and our staff, and how to do that in a way that is viable, sustainable, and consistent with our Mission and values.

This is a time when there are many questions about past actions and future decisions and when much is the subject of disagreement and debate. We believe, however, the following are beliefs and values that we can all stand behind together, and beliefs that can and should guide the work of the Board Task Force:

  • The Seattle Academy community is united in our commitment to our values of trust, respect, integrity, and responsibility and to creating an environment that is safe, supportive, diverse, and inclusive. 
  • The Seattle Academy community is united in our stand against racism of any kind and in our commitment to advance anti-racist voices, policies, actions, and priorities.
  • The Seattle Academy community is united in our commitment to providing a safe and secure learning environment at Seattle Academy for our students, faculty, and staff. 

The Board-appointed Task Force will be led by Board Members and SAAS parents Aravind Swaminathan and Mary Pembroke-Perlin, who will convene students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni to evaluate the previous situation with off-duty SPD officers and the future needs of our campus and community. 

We chose to suspend our employment of off-duty SPD officers in order to allow the Board Task Force to do its work--which is to assess, consider, and recommend a path forward—in an objective and measured fashion. We do not preclude any outcome of the Task Force’s work, and we have not placed a timeline on it. We are committed to a thoughtful and thorough process. 

Our decision to suspend our relationship with the Seattle Police Department and our off-duty officers does not abandon our commitment to providing a safe and secure learning environment or lessen our understanding of the complexities of traffic control, campus safe-keeping, and the realities of our urban campus.

SAAS will re-open in the Fall with a plan that takes into account the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, staff, and our campus. SAAS will have on-campus security of some sort present and in place for the Fall. SAAS will have a plan to address traffic issues, pick up and drop off, and the transportation challenges inherent to an urban campus.

SAAS will continue to lend our voice in support of Black Lives Matter. We support the statewide general strike and march for Black Lives Matter being held tomorrow in Seattle, and we provided flexibility for our students, families, faculty, and staff to participate in this day of action by postponing our graduation ceremonies and by cancelling all SAAS faculty and staff activities tomorrow to enable participation. 

We will communicate in the coming days more about the organization, schedule, and composition of the Task Force, as well as about opportunities for community members to indicate their interest in being involved, in providing input, and by registering questions and feedback.

We also look forward to the peaceful participation of many in the SAAS community in the Black Lives Matter march and strike tomorrow, and to the ongoing action and dialogue in civic engagement as we navigate as a society a range of complex issues, and as we move into an election year.

Throughout all of this, our commitment to our Mission and our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion statements is unwavering. They are the touchstones for our decisions, plans, and actions each and every day at SAAS.

We look forward to your questions and insights and are ever grateful for our SAAS community.

Rob Phillips                                                                David Sheppard

Head of School                                                          Board of Trustees Chair

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