"Living the realities of COVID-19 in our country and world has been unbelievable, almost surreal," Casteel said. "The topic is widely debated, and it feels like we are going in circles with a multitude of facts and opinions, and yet the finish line remains elusive. And then we have watched with horror the brutal killings of unarmed black American men, most recently George Floyd. We are witnessing the protests across the world as people cry out in pain and loss."
Casteel said as the superintendent of Chandler USD, she is "horrified by these killings."
"These recent events validate the courageous decision by our Governing Board three years ago to reaffirm our long-standing core value of equity. Under their direction we have prioritized time and resources to address the inequities identified in our schools," she wrote. "We created a roadmap with actionable steps including identifying and eradicating disproportionality among black American students and all other marginalized groups in academic achievement, discipline, access to gifted programs, and a review of current curriculum through an equity lens. An advisory board with parent and community representation was formed to provide input and hold us accountable. We are unwavering in our commitment to this effort."
Casteel said that in addition, the district recognizes the emotional toll the virus has taken on students over the course of the past few months.
"All of our students have been affected by school closure and COVID-19, but we are keenly aware of the impact that past and most recent events have had on our black students," Casteel said. 'We recognize that stress and trauma will make it difficult for many children to focus and learn, so I have asked Director of Equity Dr. Adama Sallu to assemble a team to plan how to best respond to the emotional needs of our black students as we prepare to reopen schools."
"I want our students and families to know we are here to support them during these times of crisis and will continue to stand against racism and advocate for equity of all people," Casteel continued. "In closing, I know that this work cannot be achieved by one person, one school district, or one community. It takes everyone. I trust that you will join us in our efforts to make the world a better place for our youth."