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November 2019

Dear West Community,

Today’s message is different than the messages I have sent in the past.  Today I can’t stay bright and light. Today I have to talk about what the West school community has experienced over the past few weeks as the result of the firing of security guard Marlon Anderson.

It's a challenge to do what is right in complex situations, and I believe in leading from my positive values and beliefs. I am hired by the Madison public schools to be the leader of this school.  That means that I am required to do ALL of the job, not just the parts I like. It has been extremely difficult to read, hear, or watch people outside of the building weigh in on the events at West without a full understanding of the complexities of the situation.

But that was outside the building.  Inside the building, we came together.  We came together on Thursday noon, the day after the decision to fire Marlon Anderson became public, led by his son, Noah and our amazing Black Student Union Executive Council.  Over 300 students, staff, teachers, and guests spent 90 minutes in a frank and healing conversation about the “n-word”, about who we are as a school and how we treat each other. Voices were heard, dissenting opinions shared, all within a circle of respect and kindness.  I was so proud of West, so proud of our kids and our people. It was then that I knew this would make us stronger.

We came together on Friday, October 18th when almost 1500 students, staff, and teachers walked to the Doyle Administration Building to express their discontent with the District’s decision to fire Mr. Anderson.  Again, West’s BSU Executive Team led the way. Once again, the march was peaceful, orderly and focused on asking for the District to reconsider its decision. The Madison Police Department commended our students and staff on the respect shown to MPD and others, as this massive crowd moved peaceably across the city and back again to West.

Since then, the District has reconsidered its stance and Mr. Anderson is back where he belongs in the West community.  We are working with Madison Teachers’ Inc. and our black staff on a collaborative problem-solving process to find a better means of moving forward.  The entire school community came together on Friday, October 25th and spent time together talking, listening, and healing. I continue to meet with the BSU and other student groups to solidify plans for a unified Student Voice Committee.

These have been the hardest days of my professional life. That said, they have also been amazing days of healing, love, grace, and kindness from my students, staff, teachers, and colleagues.  West is an amazing place full of warm, loving people who remain deeply committed to improving outcomes for all students every day.

I remain honored to be your principal.  

Karen Boran Signature

Karen Boran, Ed. D.