March 29, 2011
Dear Parents of Students within the Alta Feeder System,
As we are sure you are all aware, Canyons District has launched an investigation into incidents at Alta High that should be of great concern to all those who seek to create and maintain school environments that are conducive to learning and free of harassment and discrimination in any form for students, faculty and staff.
The event that prompted the comprehensive probe by our Office of Civil Rights and Accommodations — allegations that a student wore KKK-style clothing and made pro-Nazi references during an assembly — is serious in and of itself. However, our examination of the events at the school that day has uncovered evidence of other very serious incidents that warrant immediate and thorough attention, including appropriate administrative action pending the results of the investigation.
Let us be clear about the policy of the Canyons Board of Education and Administration: We strongly and unequivocally prohibit and condemn all forms of racism, hatred and discrimination in Canyons schools.
As a first step, we are communicating our expectations that students, faculty and administrators work together to maintain and enforce a non-discriminatory and safe educational environment for all students. Seasoned and respected administrator Raymond Jenson, a former Alta High teacher, Indian Hills Middle School Assistant Principal and Bingham High School Principal, is serving as substitute principal during the investigation. We are visiting all Language Arts classes this week to speak with students about their role in creating an atmosphere free of discrimination, and alerting them that any acts of racism, intimidation, or bullying will not be tolerated. We are notifying our students, faculty and administrators of their duty to report discrimination and civil rights violations to our Civil Rights and Accommodations Director Melissa Flores (801-826-5350 or ). We have been in contact with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Outreach Office to provide educational materials and technical assistance in support of these endeavors, and have invited the Department to make a presentation to the Board of Education next week.
As the President of the Board of Education and Superintendent of Canyons School District, we invite you to join hands with us in efforts to maintain and enforce a non-discriminatory, safe, and civil educational environment in all of our schools that is welcoming for all students. Should you have any questions or wish to contact us about this matter, please e-mail our Communications Office at , or call 801-826-5084 or 801-826-5050.
Tracy Scott Cowdell, J.D., President, Canyons Board of Education
David S. Doty, J.D., Ph.D., Superintendent, Canyons School District