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Dr. Gray Responds to Our Letter

Dr. Gray Response

The following is a letter written by Superintendent James Gray to JFT President Kesler Camese-Jones. He is writing in response to a letter sent by President Camese-Jones to Dr. Gray on December 18, 2020 ― you can read that letter here.

Dear Ms. Camese-Jones,
Thank you for reaching out to us with your recent letter regarding survey results. This year has been one of many challenges, and our teachers and staff are working hard daily. With a district our size, it is reasonable to understand that we will have individuals who have varying viewpoints about how to approach this school year. It is my belief that if we continue to work together to find viable solutions to issues that can be addressed, we will be successful. I want to make it clear that my optimism does not make me callous to the strain many of our teachers and staff may feel. Because of this, we want to keep the lines of communication open.  
As we have done in the past, we reviewed your information and will determine appropriate courses of action where there is a viable solution. In this approach, we want to be considerate of several things when making decisions about moving forward. Although the following is not an inclusive list, these are some of the major areas we are addressing:
  1. Provide a safe and orderly environment that allows us to provide instruction in the best possible manner for our students.
  2. Provide options for families. Those choices include having in-person learning for those who feel that is the best environment for their child, but also having a virtual option for those who feel that is the best learning environment for their child during this pandemic.
  3. If a school closure is to take place, that determination will be made on a case by case basis. We will continue to analyze school level data and work with state and local healthcare officials to monitor data daily and make any adjustments as needed.
Many of the anecdotal information from your letter appears to be more site specific than district wide. If you can please share the locations where survey participants are saying this is occurring, we can investigate the matter and come to a resolution if it is determined that an issue exists. If you are comfortable doing so, it would also be helpful to see the full list of survey questions.
We are making every conscious effort to listen to feedback and make adjustments without compromising the integrity of what we are trying to achieve during this pandemic. For example, we addressed the request for additional PPE, better supported technology needs by securing funding for new promethean boards to replace outdated boards, built new ways of communication to ensure that all employees understand what policies and procedures we have in place to keep everyone safe, etc. Additionally, we have created a video that reiterates our health and safety protocols and addresses some frequently asked questions. These questions were received via our Start Strong survey sent on December 7, Superintendent Council meetings, and faculty meetings. This is another form of communicating our processes with teachers and staff who may be still unclear about what steps are taken when we learn of a COVID event. This video will be shown at individual school sites during cluster sessions or on individual basis if teachers and staff are absent on that particular day. Central office staff will also view the video to ensure all staff have an opportunity to hear the same message. All of this work was due to continuous communication between our office and our educators.
I am appreciative of our teachers, support personnel, administrators and Central Office staff for always going above and beyond to provide our students with the best possible learning environment. I look forward to our continued positive collaboration to ensure that we get through this pandemic as a unified Jefferson Parish Schools.
Dr. James Gray
Jefferson Public Schools

Make Your Voice Heard!
Reminder: JFT Solidarity Day, is Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Wear your JFT blue and show up at the board meeting to share any of your school related concerns! JFT officers speak at every meeting, but no one can share your experience like you can.
The board meeting is scheduled for 6PM at 501 Manhattan.

Upcoming Committee Meetings

  • January 13, 2021 Community Outreach Virtual Meeting 5PM; Please email to register.
  • January 14, 2021 PSRP Committee Virtual Meeting 5PM; Please email to register.

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Please continue to use the JFT reporting form to document concerns at your school.