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Grand Rapids Public Schools responds to grand jury decision on Breonna Taylor's death

Posted at 6:41 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 18:41:04-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Public Schools officials responded Thursday to the grand jury decision in Breonna Taylor's death.

A letter sent to families and the community says the decision is a reminder that the district needs to address issues of social inequity and social justice.

Taylor, who is a native of Grand Rapids and a Kelloggsville graduate, was shot to death by police in her Kentucky apartment.

None of the officers involved in Taylor's death will be charged with homicide. Wednesday, charges of "wanton endangerment" were filed against Brett Hankinson for firing into neighboring apartments while serving a warrant.

That decision has led to unrest across the U.S.

Hundreds protested in support of Taylor in Grand Rapids Wednesday night.

"We want our community to know that we too mourn Breonna’s premature death and deeply empathize with the pain, confusion, and anger that accompanies the Grand Jury’s decision," the statement from GRPS read.

Read the full statement:

Students, Families, Staff, and Community,

As a community, we find ourselves again in a place of bewilderment, grief, and concern for the social and emotional well-being of our students, families, and our beloved community.

On March 13, 2020, we learned of the shooting and death of a young woman with deep ties to the Grand Rapids community, Breonna Taylor. On September 23, 2020, a Louisville Grand Jury decided not to pursue charges concerning circumstances surrounding the tragic and untimely death of Ms. Taylor, a native Grand Rapidian, former GRPS student, and Kelloggsville graduate.

Grand Rapids Public Schools recognizes that the Grand Jury’s decision directly impacts our GRPS family and the community at large. We want our community to know that we too mourn Breonna’s premature death and deeply empathize with the pain, confusion, and anger that accompanies the Grand Jury’s decision.

We are again reminded of the need and urgency to continue our commitment [] to addressing issues of inequity and social injustice, as well as our stance that our students be educated on issues impacting the social and emotional landscapes of their lives. For these reasons, we are committed to change through action by continuing to implement the following, as we are dedicated to doing our part to bring about lasting change for the overall well-being of our students, families, and community:

  • Work to ensure that messaging to and about our students, families, and community are appropriate and helpful,
  • Evaluate the written and taught curriculum to mitigate culturally biased instructional materials, assessments, and pedagogies while ensuring the true inclusion of marginalized populations,
  • Ensure that staff members have ongoing, embedded, and actionable professional learning opportunities;
  • Examine the history of GRPS and acknowledge how we have created processes and systems that discriminate against our students, eliminating them when found,
  • Establish a set of declaratory statements that express non-negotiables with reference to practices and policies that negatively impact marginalized populations,
  • Closely review and refine district policies and procedures that negatively impact marginalized populations,
  • Conduct equity audits to collect data, use data to make and monitor change, and assess progress, and
  • Examine district collaborations to ensure GRPS partners share our same commitment to equity and inclusion.

As we’ve stated before, we understand the importance of expressing that we stand with our students, families, and the family of Breonna Taylor. We are one Grand Rapids family. It is with this heart and passion that we make our intentions public to our students, families, and the community from whom we receive support.

Yours in Service,

Leadriane Roby, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Kristian Grant, President and the

Grand Rapids Board of Education

Maleika Joubert Brown, Ed.S

Director of Equity and Inclusion

GRPS Equity Leadership Team