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To: School Principals and District Superintendents

Date: 9/19/01

Subject: Recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.

We wholeheartedly condemn and deplore the recent attacks in New York and Washington D.C., and extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.  May God be with them at this difficult time.

at the same time, it must be acknowledged that the victims of such an attack are not only those directly involved. When a bombing or terrorist attack associated with a particular ethnic or religious group occurs, often the entire community is accused and punished.  One of the outcomes of the recent incidents has been the backlash against Muslims and arabs, and other minorities, like Sikhs who also wear a turban and beard, who have instantaneously become a target of insults, threats, hate incidents, and even violence.

Children are particularly vulnerable, the first due to their distinctive dress, and the second because of school attendance. Consequently, Muslim, arab and Sikh parents are anxious about sending their children to school, fearing for their well being and safety.  It is vital to the strength and cohesiveness of the school system that we come together as a community to create a safe, friendly, and tolerant environment for all students.

To minimize tensions or backlash, we suggest the following:

1.   Enforce any existing district and school programs that prevent and respond to hate crimes and incidences on school campuses.  Remarks or actions targeting students due to their religion or ethnicity should not be tolerated at any level by the administration or teachers.  all such incidents should be treated in a serious matter, with appropriate consequences.

2.   Minority students of middle-eastern and South asian descent may be reluctant, embarrassed or ashamed to report such incidents, so teachers should be asked to make every effort to monitor students' interactions and encourage students to report any incidents that occur in their absence.

3.   Discuss this issue with staff and teachers and have them report any incidents and their response at staff meetings.

4.   Request teachers to discuss the attacks, their aftermath, and the backlash they have produced with the students in a sensitive manner that does not foment prejudice or target one segment of the population.  ask them to encourage students to come up with solutions to the problem of prejudice, stereotyping, and hate incidents.  at the same time, encourage students to be confident in their religious and ethnic identity and heritage.

5.   Be aware of anxious or fearful parents who often do not know fluent

English.  Reassure them that their children will be safe and taken care of at your school.

6.   Have trained speakers from the middle-eastern and South asian community come to your school for a presentation about their faith and culture.

7.   Consider a workshop on diversity tolerance & hate prevention for your school.

as parents and PTa members we whole-heartedly support the school system.  at this critical time, the support of the school administrators, faculty, and staff is crucial for ensuring the safety of all children.  Should you require any additional information, please feel free to contact the following local Sikh Gurdwaras (temples) and organizations listed below.  May we please request you to communicate this information to your schools and the associated PTas.

Thank you for your attention and cooperation.