Hastings Public Schools, ISD 200

School Board Response to Recent News Stories

Dec 3, 2021

Dear ISD 200 families, students, staff, and community,

Recent news stories about our Hastings School Board Chair Kelsey Waits and negative, hurtful experiences her family has had in the community are highlighting important issues of respect, inclusion and privacy. As her fellow school board members, our hearts go out to Chairperson Waits and her family as they navigate these challenging circumstances. We cannot control what other community members do, but we can speak out when those actions impact our schools, our students and our staff.

Our children are our future, and our schools are places where all students must feel safe and welcomed, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or disability. What’s happened in our community gives us an opportunity to state, unequivocally, our support for our LGBTQ+ students and families. We are committed to their safety and wellbeing, as we are for all our students. Families are an essential component to student success and our hope is that we can all embrace and live shared values of respect, kindness, and support.

Kelsey Waits’ story has brought to light opportunities for reflection and the necessity of having tough conversations to bridge the community divide we are experiencing. Even before her story made national news, reports of unacceptable behavior targeting an already marginalized group were being received. Kelsey's experience is not an isolated incident but rather a glimpse into bigger issues of discrimination and “othering” of various groups.

As a board, we are committed to providing an equitable education for our leaders of tomorrow. Each of us brings different voices from the community. By listening to each other, we have worked strategically to implement district policies critical to providing a safe, caring, and inclusive environment for our students and staff. We know that understanding and embracing our growing diversity empowers our students to be their best selves.

Our school district’s core values, established through our strategic plan this past year, reflect our unwavering dedication to the district through the accountability and responsibility of our actions. These values include being student-centered and treating each other with compassion, respect, and empathy. These cannot just be words on paper, but must be lived out daily in our actions and our words.

We hope our whole community will join us in expressing support and compassion for the Waits family. They need to know we stand with them and do not condone the kinds of behavior they have been subjected to. As adults, we need to model the behavior we want our children to emulate. Working together, we can demonstrate clearly that students are the heart of all we do.

Stephanie Malm

Signed by Stephanie Malm, Hastings School Board Clerk, on behalf of the Hastings School Board