Return to Headlines

Superintendent Message: Reflecting on the loss and injustice and ensuring WCCUSD schools are a safe haven for students.

Dear WCCUSD Community,

This weekend has been a difficult one for our community and for America at large. Over the past weeks, I felt ill when I read the stories of Ahmaud Aubrey and Breonna Taylor. The image of George Floyd dying with an officer’s knee on his neck was beyond sickening.  

And sadly, Patrick Underwood, the officer shot and killed while protecting the Federal Court building in Oakland, was both a respected African-American officer and a Pinole Valley High School graduate, and a member of our community. 

These incidents continue to show a mind boggling, shocking and all too familiar willingness to extend violence toward African Americans. This continues my fear for this district’s students, especially those who are black and brown. Our job now more than ever as educators, mentors, friends and community is to listen, make space for anger and grief and ensure that every one of our interactions with our young black people is built on love, humanity, patience and understanding. 

Schools have to be safe havens for young people and a place where they can make sense of these horrible acts. As educators, we have a responsibility to make sure we don't repeat patterns of institutional racism, neglect and hatred. It falls on us more than ever to be thoughtful about every one of our actions, to create in our schools the humanity, love, care, decency and dignity we aspire to see in the wider society.   

With the school year coming to an end, we must find ways to continue to connect with students who will need to find space to talk, express, and make sense of the world. Not having physical classrooms for students to come into so that they can feel the warmth and trust of the friends and adults who care about them makes this even more difficult. While we reflect on all that has happened, we must continue to push that all of our social institutions, from education to criminal justice, ensure that we end the violence and overly punitive measures toward young African-American people.  

We all have the capacity to step back and make more thoughtful decisions and find peaceful, smarter, humane, and patient solutions to meet any challenging situation. I remain fully committed to building a school system full of classrooms dedicated to dialogue and restoration.  

We can and will do better.

In community

Matthew Duffy