Hello friends, colleagues, and community. We’re writing to update you about some concerning recent events and invite your input and support. We learned this week that all of our abolitionist restorative justice work at LaFollette High School has been “paused” by the Interim Principal, Mat Thompson. He is requesting we meet with him and the Chief of Secondary Schools before resuming our work in the building. We have not been given any information as to why our work is being paused other than the Interim Principal saying we need to “recalibrate our relationship and how we may possibly move forward.” This move is highly concerning.
As you know, our work at LHS has focused on shifting the culture from one of exclusionary practices, policing, and punishment to a culture that is restorative and wholistic. We have focused on anti-racism action plans, shifting power dynamics, broadening access to restorative justice, building 360 degree accountability processes, and supporting youth most impacted in defining and leading this work. The climate has changed dramatically since the previous Principal, Devon LaRossa departed. The momentum and support for restorative justice work has rolled back significantly. We have seen a heavy focus on the behavior education plan and we’re seeing divisiveness in how restorative justice is being portrayed, utilized, and communicated about. We know this rollback will impact Black and Brown students the most.
We would like to invite you all to our Flywheel Social on Monday, 10/11 from 4:30-6:30 at Burrows Park to hear updates and learn about how to engage and show your support through specific action steps. We want to keep everyone updated and on the same page about what is happening. Over the next few days we will be planning our response. A strong show of community support will be needed to push back. Please join us Monday to learn more about the situation, our concerns, and ways you can support our work at LHS. Burrows Park – 25 Burrows Rd, Madison.
The TimeBank Abolitionist Restorative Justice Team
Dr. Damita Brown, Lorrie Hurckes, Alexis Gardner, Kayasia Blake, and Ryan Eykholt