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    Appreciation and Superintendent Denise Juneau Contract Update
    Posted on 12/08/2020

    Appreciation and Superintendent Denise Juneau Contract Update

    Dear SPS families:

    It has been the greatest honor of my professional journey to serve Seattle Public Schools' students, families, school leaders, educators, community partners, and staff for the past 2½ years. I'm inspired every day by our students and their commitment to a more compassionate and just community. Our future is in good hands.

    I'm writing to let you know that I am not seeking a new contract with Seattle Public Schools. My current contract is scheduled to finish at the end of June 2021.

    This was a challenging decision. As the district's first Native superintendent, advancing racial equity and social justice has been deeply personal to me. I came here with a dream to drive a powerful anti-racist agenda for Seattle’s school leaders, educators, parents, students, and broader community, and I worked aggressively with staff and the community to build a bold strategic plan focused on a better, fairer system for students of color furthest from educational justice. I’m especially proud of how we have changed our system and structures to better serve African American boys and teens through the Office of African American Male Achievement. And our commitment to educator diversity has been relentless. This year, 36% of our educators hired were people of color; 54% of our school leaders hired were people of color; and 55% of our central administrators hired were people of color. Additionally, over the past two years, our graduation rate has jumped 5.5 percentage points for students of color. The promise of Seattle’s educational excellence has always lived in educational justice.

    When our collective journey towards that excellence was painfully disrupted by a global pandemic, we did not let it halt us. Staff moved quickly to provide devices for every student and distribute more than 3,200 hotspots or internet codes. We established eight family tech centers and opened family tech phone lines to support thousands in our community. Our nutrition services staff started serving meals by bus, at school sites, and directly to communities. They are now serving 30,000 meals a day to keep our school communities nourished. As the virus attacked our country, our community came together in partnership. We built new relationships to close the gaps and cross the chasms that government alone could not. Amazon provided 8,200 devices for students who needed them. Alaska Airlines delivered 12,000 iPads to our youngest learners. In partnership with our childcare providers, we set up 46 programs in our schools to serve thousands of children. Nearly 700 of our SPS 2020 graduates took advantage of our partnership with the City and Seattle Colleges to attend their first years of college tuition-free through Seattle Promise. Educators and community partners stepped up in never before seen ways — delivering content from kitchen tables and learning new platforms and new instructional approaches. School leaders leapt into action, providing essential technical and instructional support to educators, building new supports and educational programming, and making quick decisions driven by compassion and leadership. School personnel - bus drivers, custodial and maintenance staff, instructional assistants, and countless others — took responsibility to provide essential services to our families and students. And parents and students, you have reorganized your homes and daily lives to make space for the educational experience to be virtually delivered. In the most challenging of circumstances, everyone has stepped up in the most creative and heroic ways to do everything imaginable to keep our young people learning. I am so thankful for your partnership as we have navigated one of the most disruptive moments in the history of public education and our nation.

    Despite all of the profound suffering the pandemic has caused, I have been proud to lead and rely on a community of educators and partners who have taken on the challenge of keeping our students healthy and safe while continuing to provide a space for students to learn. But the reality is, people are suffering and in deep personal pain — a pain I share and know, having lost my own father to the virus a few weeks ago. There has never been a more important time for unity and healing.

    Much work remains to be done. I stand ready to assist the school board as they choose the next person to lead the district and build on our legacy of success. Leadership matters; our educators, students, and families will be looking to our leadership to manage through this crisis and forge forward on our path toward educational excellence. I hope that the next leader of SPS is able to lay down roots in this beautiful, resilient city and build on the vision of a more just and equitable school system for our great community. I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead and learn here. I will carry the spirit and lessons of this community and experience with me, and hope that our time spent together has helped strengthen the foundation for the continued growth for all our truly remarkable students.

    In partnership,

    Denise