Director of Schools Lays Down the Law and Welcome Mat for Nashville’s Children

Originally appeared on MNPS’ website Monday, January 30

We have a diverse and wonderful group of students, families and employees at Metro Nashville Public Schools. We welcome anyone from any nation, culture, religion and ethnic background.
President Trump’s executive orders on immigrants and refugees have had a real effect on the MNPS community. The President’s actions have understandably caused a tremendous amount of concern for our foreign-born families and staff, as well as the broader community who care about our fellow human beings. Our families and staff need accurate information and we want to be a resource for you. Please let us know what questions you have and how we can support you.

Also, please be reassured to know that Metro Schools will remain a place where all students – regardless of where they came from or how they got here – can be educated, find a safe place and dream for the future. Our schools do not and will not monitor the immigration or citizenship status of our students. As a public school district, it is our responsibility to ensure that our schools are safe spaces where all children are supported not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well.

Along those lines, I want to remind our students and staff that while free speech and free expression are protected in our country and in our schools, hate speech and hateful acts are not. Our Board of Education passed a resolution in October 2016 condemning violence and hate speech specifically against Muslims and Muslim students. As stated in the resolution, hateful rhetoric is especially harmful to children, as it has a negative impact on their psychological well-being and their ability to thrive in school. With that in mind, we will do everything in our power to protect students and staff in our schools from hateful words and actions, and anyone participating in such behaviors will be disciplined appropriately.

I share Mayor Barry’s sentiments about the city of Nashville being a welcoming city that embraces immigrants and refugees. The United States is supposed to be a country of opportunity. Immigrants bring a richness to our country that we should maximize – and that starts by giving them a high quality education.

In the interest of children,

Shawn Joseph, Ed.D.

Director of Schools

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