More than 500 Manheim Township alumni signed a letter sent to the district Thursday imploring it to better educate students about race following the death of George Floyd.
The letter, written by 2017 graduate Grace Torrance, urges the 5,700-student, majority white school district to advocate for a less racially biased curriculum, begin mandatory anti-racism training for teachers and faculty, host assemblies to address racism and hire more teachers of color, among other recommendations.
“As a citizen of Manheim Township School District and a Manheim Township alumna, I urge Manheim Township public schools to be accountable for teaching about systemic racism in this country,” Torrance wrote, adding that she never learned “about racism, the full extent of systemic violence, or the racial caste system” while in school.
“We were not given the tools to actively seek resources to have difficult conversations to move towards becoming antiracist,” she wrote.
People identifying themselves as past and future Manheim Township graduates, from 1967 to 2024, signed the letter.
Superintendent Robin Felty confirmed she and school board members received the letter Thursday. On Friday morning, she provided LNP | LancasterOnline a lengthy statement thanking current and former students for their advocacy and outlining the district’s diversity efforts.
Story continues after statement.
Among those efforts, she said, are diversity and equity trainings, student opportunities such as the mentorship program Attollo and anti-bullying program Rachel’s Challenge, and human resources strategies to recruit employees that better represent the community.
Various high school courses include dialogue about racism, she added.
“As a public school system, we are constantly challenging ourselves and developing comprehensive goals to ensure that our students have the tools in place to be successful contributing members to society,” she said. “The author’s letter offers ideas for the tools they need to make a lasting impact, and we will consider those suggestions in our continued planning.”