Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Bedell will lead a community conversation on acceptance and inclusion in Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the broader community next week.
The event will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 pm on Monday, January 23, at Severna Park High School. Dr. Bedell will address the audience briefly and, similar to the format of the superintendent’s Listening and Learning Tour, participants will then break into small groups to provide input on three questions:
- What is the public perception of acceptance and inclusion in Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the greater Anne Arundel County community?
- What is your individual perception of acceptance and inclusion in Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the greater Anne Arundel County community?
- What can be done to repair the deficits that exist?
The forum follows a well-publicized incident involving Severna Park High School students last week. A video of a student bullying and threatening a classmate with special needs was airdropped to students in the school and subsequently circulated on social media. Dr. Bedell stressed that the forum will address topics far beyond any single school, and all are welcome to attend.
“Acceptance and inclusion are things that we must embrace in this school district,” Dr. Bedell said. “We are a school district that is becoming more and more diverse by the day. We want to have conversations with communities impacted and talk about how we begin to change the perception because the perception is the reality. But we also must be clear that this is not about one incident or one school because we have incidents like this around the county. This is about a school district and this county as a whole because we as a school district cannot do this work alone.”
As has been the case with the Listening and Learning Tour sessions, there will not be an opportunity for public comment at the forum. Input from facilitated small-group discussions will be recorded, and that input will be utilized in discussions about future initiatives and posted online publicly.