Letter: School administrators address culture at SSHS
The Steamboat Springs Board of Education, Steamboat Springs High School Principal Rick Elertson and Superintendent Dr. Brad Meeks would like to address the recent allegations regarding culture at the high school. We want to acknowledge the courage students demonstrate by sharing difficult experiences. While progress over the past 20 months is significant, we recognize change does not happen overnight.
We also agree with the many students and staff who feel Steamboat Springs High School is a safe and positive place. As Mr. Elertson relayed in his message to families yesterday, it is possible for two things to be true at the same time. “Each day, over 900 students and staff pass through the doors of SSHS, and most of them do extraordinary things each time they do. Some make choices that are unacceptable, and those choices have consequences.”
Principal Elertson and our Title IX team are working with the students who expressed concern. They have identified positive steps moving forward to ensure students feel safe.
Our first priority is to inform students of their options for reporting an incident to a trusted adult. The district has strengthened our partnership with Advocates of Routt County to address any ongoing concerns students have regarding inappropriate comments and consent. Addressing these behaviors is key in preventing escalated sexual harassment and misconduct.
We want to reassure our community the district has followed through on all of the recommendations from the independent investigation in 2020. The district has revised Title IX policies to be in compliance with federal law. All staff receive Title IX training for properly reporting allegations of sexual misconduct. Coordinators at each school have been identified as point personnel, and our districtwide Title IX coordinator oversees all procedures.
The Board of Education directed the formation of the Culture and Climate Task Force to identify needs for improvement in our schools. Now a district committee, it is currently seeking community participation to promote the ongoing effort “to support a climate and culture in our schools of respect, trust, safety, and dignity for all.”
Creating a positive school culture is ongoing as students learn to respect one another and appropriate boundaries. We believe our high school and district staff take the proper steps when complaints are made and view staff as safe and trusting adults who are responsive to the needs of our students.
Together for the benefit of all students,
Steamboat Springs Board of Education members Kim Brack, Chresta Brinkman, Lara Craig, Kelly Latterman and Katy Lee
Steamboat Springs High School Principal Rick Elertson
Superintendent Brad Meeks
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