Update to CHS Administration Response to Racial Incident

Dear Parents and Guardians,

A video from Instagram of a student saying a racial slur was presented to the CHS Administrative Team on Monday, February 24,,2020.  A corrective action plan was developed by the CHS Administrative Team using the CHS Harassment Policy in conjunction with the School District of Philadelphia Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities.   On Thursday afternoon, new posts containing racial slurs were presented to the CHS Administrative Team. An investigation of the new posts was conducted in accordance with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) protocols as outlined by the SDP Student Code of Conduct.

On Friday morning, February 28, 2020, the CHS Administrative Team, CHS lead counselor, support staff from Learning Network 1 and student leaders met to discuss the incident and its negative impact on our school community.  The students expressed their outrage and are working with us to develop an action plan to make our school the culturally inclusive learning community that all students deserve.

Some of the action plan will include the following:

  1. Schoolwide assemblies on the topics of racism and racial bias supported by outside experts – We have been in contact with the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Climate and Safety for guidance. – Goal: next 6 weeks
  2. CHS Administrative Team and student leaders will develop a professional development at which our students give their perspectives on racial issues at Central High School to the faculty in small group settings. – Goal: presentations given by the end of this school year.
  3. Reinstatement of the CHS Faculty-Student Advisory Council: an elected group of teachers and students who work together to solve school issues. – Goal: elections by the end of the year; reinstatement of council – September 2020
  4. Schoolwide assemblies related to social media usage – We will be contacting outside experts to support these presentations.  Parents will be invited to attend. – Goal: April 2020
  5. Explore the use of community building circles during homeroom to support our students and faculty members with making better personal connections and developing positive relationships. – Goal: training for selected staff and student leaders during summer 2020
  6. Expand CHS Handbook Review for all students– Student/Admin panels will share all discipline regulations and harassment policy in detail and enable students to ask clarifying questions so that all expectations are presented in a clearer manner. – Goal: September 2020
  7. Provide students a more diverse library of readings for our English and History curriculums. – Goal: research appropriate titles by end of school year / new additions to our catalog available for 2020-2021 school year

Ensuring a safe and supportive school environment for all students and staff has long been a goal at Central High School. We have worked to address race specifically through various recent initiatives. Examples include last year’s implicit bias training for all staff and this year’s Teaching for Equity training based on the book Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zaretta Hammond.  However, incidents like last week’s remind us that we have more work to do as a community in this area. The CHS leadership team, with support of the District, is deeply committed to engaging in this work in a thoughtful and focused way.

The fact remains that the CHS Administrative Team and Faculty strongly condemn the use of any harassing language or acts related to race, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, and/or personal appearance.   We are committed to improving our school community for all.


Timothy J. McKenna

President of Central High School