The Upper Adams School District today announced the appointment of Fox Rothschild Attorneys at Law of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the third-party investigator to conduct an independent, unbiased assessment of the District’s policies, procedures and response to alleged acts of racism and/or ethnic discrimination recently shared by students and alumni of Biglerville High School on social media.
The School District has embarked on a comprehensive Anti-Racism Plan as it strives to eradicate racism and discrimination on and off of its campuses in a sustainable manner. A series of first steps forward have been put into motion including student and alumni Listening Sessions, unconscious bias training for faculty, staff and the board of directors, and now the engagement of a third-party independent investigator.
“We will not tolerate acts of racism in our Schools. Students, both current and alumni, bravely shared their experiences of racial discrimination, bringing to light issues that are not reflective of the District’s values of respect and inclusivity. We have taken immediate action and are working with racism experts to develop a comprehensive Anti-Racism Plan. For us to be successful, we feel an unbiased, third-party assessment of our District is necessary to fully implement an effective plan of action to address issues of racism head-on and ensure our Schools are free of discrimination of any kind,” stated Wesley T. Doll, Ed.D., Upper Adams School District Superintendent.
“Based on the identified needs of Upper Adams School District and to promote the goals of educating all students holistically and in a safe, healthy and non-discriminatory learning environment, we agree with the District in its belief that an impartial inquiry into the concerns that have been reported is warranted and in the best interest of the school community,” stated Kelley B. Hodge of Fox Rothschild, Attorneys at Law.
Kelley Hodge of Fox Rothschild Attorneys at Law will lead the investigation. She brings extensive experience working as an investigator, adjudicator and trainer on subject matters that involve discrimination and harassment, sexual, race-based and other forms of assaultive behavior in schools. She has overseen, conducted or reviewed numerous investigations as a past public defender, prosecutor and Title IX Coordinator and performed similar work in K-12 schools on reports of racial discrimination and harassment. Hodge is also the former Safe Schools Advocate appointed by Governor Tom Corbett and has trained and delivered training on trauma, child abuse, juvenile justice and education.
The independent review will include an unbiased assessment of all information received on harassment in any form and a review of policies and procedures in place to address harassment to determine if efforts are being implemented effectively. Fox Rothschild investigators will reach out and interview all students and alumni willing to be interviewed as part of their review.
Fox Rothschild’s report is expected to be completed within 60 days and will include recommendations, inclusive of practical ways to drive greater leadership effectiveness, promote trust and collaboration with the community and emphasize the well-being of students, faculty and staff. The School District is committed to an open and transparent process as the findings and recommendations of the external investigator are presented, while also protecting the privacy of specific students and employees involved.
All students and parents are asked to report any racist or bullying behavior through the Safe2Say Something School Safety Program at Safe2SayPa.org (https://www.safe2saypa.org), where information may be reported anonymously. Additionally, the school community will be able to contact Fox Rothschild privately through a dedicated phone line 215-444-7280. Spanish language services will be available.