Open Letter to the Winchester City Council: April 7, 2019

Sunday April 7, 2019

Indivisible Winchester
info@indivisiblewinchester.com

Mayor David Smith and council members Les Veach, Bill Wiley, Evan Clark, John Hill, Kim Herbstritt, Corey Sullivan, Judy McKiernan, and John Willingham.

In response to yesterday’s Winchester Star news report that a student was sexually assaulted at Handley High School, several of us plan on attending your next city council meeting to speak during the portion of the meeting devoted to public comments. We continue to be concerned about the safety of students in our schools as well as the safety of all local citizens.

We would like to meet with council members at your earliest convenience to discuss two recommendations:

  1. Establish a Human Rights Commission for the City of Winchester modeled on ones that exist in other cities, including cities in Virginia. Charlottesville has a commission for this purpose: “To act as a strong advocate for justice and equal opportunity by providing citywide leadership and guidance in the area of civil and human rights, and to act as an advisory body to City Council in matters pertaining to human and civil rights.” Commission members would meet regularly to consider such human rights issues as racial or ethnic prejudice and discrimination, sexual discrimination or assault, LBTQ protections, economic justice and more. They could advise the council and serve as a resource and advocate for people in the community. (http://www.charlottesville.org/departments-and-services/boards-and-commissions/human-rights-commission).
  2. Change the Winchester Public Schools Board from being appointed to being elected. Only one other school board in the Commonwealth is not elected. An elected school board would be more responsive to community feedback and more accountable for protecting students under Title IX guidelines. A simple majority vote of the city council could accomplish this change. If the city council is unwilling to do this, we will petition registered voters to support a referendum for electing school board members.

Thank you considering these proposals.

Sincerely,

Indivisible Winchester

Jeana O’Connor, Bruce Carlton, Bryan Nuri, Gary Auerbach, Ellie Mackintosh, Nancy Polo, Kerry Carmichael, Amanda Kelly, John De Montfort, David Pratt

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