The parents of students at Lusher Charter School sent a letter Monday (July 5) to the school’s Advocates for Arts -Based Education Board and the administration calling for a name change and for greater transparency.
The action comes after a reported exodus of faculty members and the exit of Principal Steve Corbett, who is set to become CEO of Audubon Schools.
The following was sent with the signatures 175 Lusher parents.
Dear Members of the Board, LCS administration, and LCS Community,
We are parents of students who attend LCS, and collectively have decades of experience with LCS.
We are dismayed with the administration and board’s response to student and faculty calls to confront racism within our school community in matters symbolic, structural, and everyday.
First, some of our teachers of color have now made it known that they are leaving the school because they do not feel their voices were respected. They believe that Lusher silences voices of dissent, rather than learn from their perspectives. These teachers were leaders in the school and mentors to African American and Asian American students.
We are writing to ensure there is a public record about our concerns and to notify you that we are paying attention and urge LCS to take concrete steps to recruit and retain faculty of color. At previous board meetings the need to hire more teachers of color has been emphasized, but we also need concrete changes to keep the teachers of color that we do have. Moreover, colleagues of color should not have to be championing change and anti-racism alone.
Second, almost one year ago, many members of the LCS community, led by the Black Student Union, marched to change the name and the culture of the school. They took it upon themselves to educate the public about the history behind the name and why it is just one of the numerous reasons they feel that they have felt undervalued at our school.
Third, we need greater transparency and communication. We have since witnessed board meetings where the board and top administrators have punted their responsibility to change the school program’s name, patronized student leaders (refusing to allow them membership on committees), and offered more platitudes than change. The administration’s deflection and stalling tactics speak volumes.
We urge you to:
1. Publicly recognize that the school should not honor a segregationist. Change the school program name of LCS, so that it no longer commemorates a deceased individual known for his explicit racism. For this process, the Administration will work with LCS Black Student Union and other vested groups (i.e. parents, students, alumni, teachers, etc) throughout the name-change process and include entities from each of these groups on a name change committee.
2. Commit to recruitment and retention of Black faculty and faculty of color. Provide transparent data, including a yearly account of faculty of color, faculty hiring, and faculty retention.
3. Create a transparent, comprehensive plan to address student, faculty, and staff experiences of racism within the school. These plans should be made with faculty, staff, and students at the table, and there should be regular, measurable updates to the school community on a yearly basis at minimum. The Diversity and Learning Pathway must remain focused on outcomes, not just aspirational goals, foster openness when we might fall short, and offer explanation and accountability for delays or challenges.
LCS promotes one of its strengths as its culture, dearly held by many students and parents for several decades. We understand that you may be hesitant to change the name of the school because you are proud of the accomplishments we’ve achieved in the name of our school. However, please know that these accomplishments are quickly being overshadowed. Support for our school does not mean blind loyalty — rather, we need active dialogue, responsiveness, and concrete actions.
LCS must educate our students for a changing world, one in which flexibility, empathy, awareness of diversity, and attention to structural inequities are imperative.