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2 letters link origin of DIGs to Martyn

The following letter was submitted by Kristina Fontanez of Scituate Street, Arlington. It is signed by parent members of the Arlington Public School DIGs. 

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We, the parent volunteers of Arlington’s parent-led and parent-founded Diversity and Inclusion Groups (DIGs), are writing this letter to respond to the May 17 letter by Miriam Stein claiming that Superintendent Bodie established the DIGs.

The DIGs were founded and initially led by Lynette Martyn, now a School Committee candidate. Between 2015 and 2018, Lynette advocated for the creation of the DIGs during Diversity Task Group and the Superintendents Diversity Advisory Committee meetings.

Her organizing of parent volunteers led to Arlington’s first DIG meeting held at the Brackett School on April 25, 2018, and attended by Principal Zerchykov.

DIG meeting notes, emails, and agendas support these facts and are corroborated by the undersigned parents who were present at many of these meetings. Further, Lynette founded the steering committee of DIG leaders from each of the Arlington schools and she worked tirelessly to engage additional parents to ensure every Arlington Public School was represented. This group met quarterly to coordinate efforts across the schools. Each DIG operated independently with the parent volunteers at each school deciding upon their own mission statement, charter and list of activities appropriate to their school communities.

In the earliest stages of this parent-led and parent-founded effort, many DIG leaders attempted to engage their respective principals through e-mail and in-person advocacy. Initially, several principals offered only muted support. Nonetheless, some principals were enthusiastic from the very beginning, with Stephanie Zerchykov of Brackett Elementary as an excellent example.

We believe that the tireless advocacy of the DIG leaders led Superintendent Bodie to affirm the value that we brought to the community and direct her principals to coordinate and cooperate with our efforts. We are thankful that Dr. Bodie chose to support the DIGs because it provided a helpful dose of momentum allowing each DIG to more productively engage with their respective principals and school communities. We do not believe that the superintendent’s acknowledgement and subsequent support of an existing parent-led volunteer group can be described as solely “established” by Superintendent Bodie. 

We are further thankful to the principals of each Arlington Public School who have, with the support of Dr. Bodie, dedicated many hours to engaging with and supporting the DIGs at their respective schools. We believe Arlington is a stronger, more equitable community as a result of the engaged parent-volunteers of the DIGs and the hard work and cooperation among parents, teachers and school administrators.

Kristina Fontanez, Brackett parent and former cochair of the Brackett DIG (2018-2019)

Ben Moynihan, Brackett parent and Brackett DIG volunteer

Judith Schaechter, Thompson parent and Thompson DIG lead (2018 to present)

Brian Kang, Thompson parent to two daughters, spouse of Thompson DIG member Linda Kang

Linda Kang, Thompson parent and Thompson DIG member

Jennifer Mansfield, Thompson parent and Thompson DIG member

Emily James, Brackett parent and DIG volunteer 

Inae Hwang, Brackett parent and chair of SEPAC

Rajeev Soneja, Gibbs-Ottoson DIG member

Lucy Thiboutot, Thompson parent and Thompson DIG member

Mia Kiistala, Peirce/Ottoson co-lead (2018-2019)

Judy Hu, Thompson parent and DIG volunteer

Julieta Gleiser, Bishop / Ottoson parent, Bishop DIG lead (2018-present)

Anne Moore, Thompson parent and Thompson DIG member

Elizabeth LaRose, Peirce parent and DIG member

Claire Johnson, Peirce parent and DIG member

Ileana Gatica, Bishop parent and DIG member

Sarah Popper, Bishop parent and DIG lead (2018-present)

Wyndham Ayares, Hardy parent and DIG member

Joshua Ayares, Hardy parent and DIG member 

Judith Schaechter of Marathon Street, Arlington, submitted this letter.

I feel compelled to respond to Miriam Stein’s letter to the editor published on May 17, 2020, in which she contends that the Diversity and Inclusion Groups (DIGs), parent-led groups now active at each elementary and secondary school of the Arlington Public Schools (APS), were founded by the superintendent, Dr. Kathleen Bodie.

I write from the unique perspective of being a member of the Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee since the fall of 2017, a member of Arlington’s Vision 2020 Diversity Task Group (DTG) between 2017 to 2018, and the lead parent of the Thompson Elementary School DIG since its inception in the fall of 2018. Based on my direct knowledge and involvement in these groups, I know that Dr. Bodie did not found the DIGs.

Rather, the idea of having Arlington Public School (APS) parents collaborate with their respective schools to help meet the district’s goal of improving cultural competency in APS came from Lynette Martyn during discussions among DTG members in late 2017.

This idea was brought to the Superintendent’s Diversity Advisory Committee by Lynette, discussed there and was received favorably by Dr. Bodie. Lynette has been the main organizer and promoter of the DIGs, starting the first parent-led DIG at her home school of Brackett in June 2018. Using the Brackett DIG as a model, a DIG was created at each elementary and secondary school in the district over the 2018-2019 school year.

Each DIG has worked with their respective school principal, and, in some cases PTO, to create programs that address perceived needs in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion in their school community. Representatives of all DIGs have met nearly quarterly since late 2018 in Lynette’s home to review and coordinate DIG efforts across APS. The DIGs have strengthened our school communities to better meet the needs of all of our children and their families, and we owe this achievement to Lynette.

These letters were published Monday, May 18, 2020.

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Guest - Barbara C. Goodman on Tuesday, 19 May 2020 01:28

Does the advisory council take minutes? Perhaps the document would help clarify his issue.

Does the advisory council take minutes? Perhaps the document would help clarify his issue.
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