LAPS School Board Endorsements By Racial Justice Action Advisory Council Of Los Alamos Members

To our fellow community members,

Racial Justice Action Advisory Council of Los Alamos (RJAAC) was formed in the summer of 2020 as a loosely organized group of community members interested in having a positive impact on race relations in Los Alamos. As a group, we have developed the following mission and vision statements that we use to guide our work.

Mission: RJAAC disrupts racism in the communities of Northern New Mexico. Our purpose is to dismantle racism in education, policy, and practice and build an empowered space of intersectional racial equity.

Vision: A world without racism is possible. We envision a community in which people of color are part of every decision-making body; community planning is done with the goal of equity; our community embraces the full diversity of Northern New Mexico.

As partners in working toward this vision, we suggest the following practical goals for the Los Alamos Public Schools.

We encourage our School Board to select a superintendent who is committed to reducing disparities in outcomes and who will consistently direct resources to this work, and we urge our School Board to develop policies and make budget decisions that support increasing equity.

We request that the LAPS School Board and the incoming superintendent support the work of the district’s Equity Council, which is tasked with researching and making recommendations to reduce disparity.

The school board should choose a superintendent who will strengthen the capacity of all adults working within the school system to work successfully with diverse students. The New Mexico Black Education Act, adopted July 1st by the New Mexico legislature, prescribes specific anti-bias education for teachers. Our district should treat this as an opportunity for staff and students of every race and background to learn and grow.

We recommend that the School Board and the incoming superintendent strengthen paths for professional advancement among all LAPS staff, to specifically include staff members of color. A vehicle for this exists in New Mexico’s “Grow Your Own Teachers” initiative, which offers scholarship opportunities for existing school employees, such as our instructional assistants, to earn a teacher’s credential. The School Board should enthusiastically support pathways to educational leadership for all staff, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, Asian, or as people of color, and ensure that opportunities for mentorship and professional development are available to them at every level.

Finally, we hope the LAPS School Board will consider the development of a clear, transparent process to deal with racial harassment that is accessible and usable to students, families, and staff. Like sexual harassment, racial harassment requires special policy consideration, because it operates alongside existing power dynamics that make it harder to report and harder to address. Racial harassment can result in decreased academic engagement, adverse mental health outcomes, and decreased trust in the school system.  We have heard stories of students, families, and staff members who have experienced racial harassment in our schools. Every student, parent, and staff member should know that reports of racial harassment will be treated with seriousness.

In service of our mission and vision, we publicly support potential School Board members who recognize the importance of working toward equity.

In keeping with these commitments and goals, we endorse three candidates for contested LAPS School Board seats: Antonio Jaurigue, Erin Green, and Melanie Colgan. Each one of these candidates has been willing to take a position in support of increasing racial equity in our school system. Rather than focusing conversation on academic theories or extreme positions, these candidates have shown interest in finding practical ways to ensure that all students, staff, and families in Los Alamos schools are treated with respect and offered an environment in which they can thrive.

Respectfully Submitted by the following members of the Los Alamos Racial Justice Action Advisory Council,

Tara Adams
Ashley Naughton
Lisabeth Lueninghoener
Heather McCulloch
Michael Dolejsi
Megan Green
Laura McClellan
Stephanie Nakhleh
Michael Adams
Tina DeYoe
Mix’alh Adams