To our community,

The Social Work Department of Portland Public Schools stands in solidarity with those who condemn the murder of George Floyd and countless other victims of police violence and the complicity of our institutions in the failure to arrest and convict. Many of our school community members are speaking out and we are inspired to see you stand fiercely for justice and continue the fight for an equitable world for all of us.

We agree with our professional body, the National Association of Social Workers, in their statement that “The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) strongly condemns the continued death of unarmed people who are African American at the hands of police. We renew our call for the nation to adopt policing reforms to address this crisis. And we offer our condolences to the families of the people who have died.” We are sad and angry and we know that our students and families are also sad and angry.

Most of the Social Workers in the Portland Public Schools are white. This is a problem and is part of America’s legacy of racial oppression. We recommit ourselves to increasing the diversity in our ranks. Those of us who are white recommit ourselves to doing the hard work to honestly face and address our internalized racism and implicit bias. We recommit ourselves to making our schools places of safety and education for all students. We recommit ourselves to having difficult but necessary conversations.

We cannot meet in person to grieve and organize in the way that we could before the pandemic. We also know that COVID-19 disproportionally affects people of color in Maine and across the country. This is hard and complicated. We are inspired by the leadership of our students and moved by the continued fight and struggle for their right to a fair and just world. We pledge to be better allies and champions to change the systems that perpetuate injustice. To our students and families- we see you, we hear you, and we stand with you. We need you to stay safe and stay strong. Our future as a community, state and as a nation depends on it.

In solidarity,

Portland Public Schools Social Work Department

Melissa McStay, LCSW

School Social Worker
Deering High School