NEWS RELEASE: All Students Belong

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

September 18th, 2020 
Media Contact: Marc Siegel 

All Students Belong

Oregon State Board of Education Adopts All Students Belong rule to help ensure Oregon’s schools are safe and inclusive for all students and staff.

​(Salem, Ore). – This morning, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) filed a temporary administrative rule with the Secretary of State, adopted yesterday by the State Board of Education, that focuses on the health and safety of our students and educators by creating a safer and more inclusive school climate. 

During yesterday’s Board of Education meeting, the board unanimously passed the All Students Belong temporary rule to prohibit the use of hate symbols in schools and to establish requirements for anti-bias incidents at a district level. 

Like similar initiatives currently in place in Oregon school districts, this effort was sparked by students as a response to the increasing number of incidents impacting their ability to access education in Oregon’s schools. 

“Our students called us out and into action,” Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said. “The Oregon Department of Education is committed to ensuring that Oregon’s schools are safe and inclusive for all students and staff, and the All Students Belong rule is an important step in that process. The noose, Confederate flag and swastika are being used to bully and harm students and staff, and this is particularly true for students of color. Students must feel like they are safe and belong in their own schools if they are to learn, work and grow to their fullest potential. It is our responsibility to make sure that all of our school communities feel safe and welcomed, and we support youth to set a moral standard.”

The rule requires districts to adopt and implement policies and procedures that prohibit, at a minimum, the use or display of the noose, swastika, or Confederate flag in any program or school-sponsored activities except where used in teaching curriculum that is aligned with the Oregon State Standards. This applies to both in-person and distance learning environments. The rule will take effect today, and districts will be asked to have policies in place by January 1, 2021. A permanent rule will be introduced in several months.

ODE will continue to support school districts in developing rules, policies, and procedures over the next several months by providing guidance, educational resources, and toolkits to support implementation of these policies. Most districts have existing nondiscrimination policies and procedures for addressing bias incidents that pose a threat to student, staff and/or community safety that can serve as a starting point for responding to incidents in which hate symbols or hate speech occur in both in-person and in distance learning situations.

“Our goal is to create stronger and safer school communities,” Gill said. “Removing these symbols is an important step in making sure that Oregon schools are for everyone, no exceptions. All students belong.”

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