A Message From the Ed Smith PTO Board

In Support of Anti-Racism in SCSD

We write to express our support for the work of the Syracuse City School District and Ed Smith Administration to address bias in our schools and foster an equitable education for all students. SCSD’s current efforts to combat inherent bias as well as systemic racism, including developing a formal anti-racism policy; leading community book groups and reflections; implementing professional development; and circulating a survey to all members of the district community demonstrate the District’s intention to work diligently on the issues around racially discriminatory practices and how they negatively affect all students in the classroom.

The mission of the Ed Smith PTO is to work to achieve a quality and equitable education for our children. In addition to raising resources to that end, we also seek to serve as a forum for communication, understanding, support, and cooperation among parents, guardians, faculty, administration, staff, and community.

We acknowledge that Black lives matter. It is our responsibility to speak up in recognition that structural racism exists at Ed Smith, even as we recognize and appreciate the work that our administrators, School Leadership Team, teachers and District are doing to better understand and educate themselves about the implicit bias held toward Black and multiracial students, teachers, and staff and to address the impacts of biased attitudes and behavior.

The School Leadership Team has incorporated targets in the 2020-2021 School Improvement Plan and the District will be releasing a formal Anti-Racism Policy in the coming months. We also hope that the District examines curriculum, onboarding/orientation, and professional development to incorporate culturally sensitive education into classroom practice.

We are fortunate to have kind, caring, and compassionate leaders, teachers, and families at Ed Smith. We call for the Ed Smith community to come together to support and join the efforts of the school to improve our culture and environment.

In service to our students and their families, the Ed Smith PTO board commits to do the following:

  • Report to administration when racial biases or discriminatory practices are apparent or brought to our attention.
  • Work to hold the school and district accountable to their pledge to combat racism in the district.
  • Advocate for more Black and multiracial teachers at Ed Smith.
  • Engage and involve more families from every race, cultural background, and Syracuse neighborhood, recognizing that our current PTO board and committees do not reflect the demographics of our school’s diverse population.
  • Continue the practice of offering a virtual component to PTO meetings so more people can attend when in-person meetings resume.
  • Create a fundraising arm of the PTO with separate meetings, in order to create more effective and inclusive general monthly meetings with adequate time for discussions of school concerns.
  • Ask school leadership to implement a confidential and easily accessible mechanism through which parents and families can voice issues of concern; where preferred, this mechanism should be entirely protective of the identity of the person who brings the matter forward.
  • Engage in deeper examination of PTO events and fundraisers to be aware of geographic, cultural and structural barriers to participation and to ensure there is opportunity and value for all families to take part.
  • Create a space on our website for resources for families around anti-racist practices in schools.
  • Invite a student representative from the middle school student council to attend PTO meetings and report on student concerns.

These efforts will take time, and we will make mistakes. We thank you for your grace and support, and we invite you to join us in strengthening the Ed Smith School community. Please feel free to contact Ed Smith PTO President Karly Grifasi at kbacker07@gmail.com to offer feedback and suggestions on how we can better serve the Ed Smith community. You also can learn more about the Ed Smith PTO online at edsmith-pto.org or on Facebook and Instagram.

The next Ed Smith PTO meeting will be held on Zoom on Thursday, September 17, at 7pm. We hope to see you then.

We are Ed Smith,
The Ed Smith PTO Board

  • President: Karly Grifasi
  • Vice Presidents: Kari Zhe-Heimerman and Julie Gozan
  • Recording Secretaries: Kate Saufley and Eric Ferguson
  • Corresponding Secretary: Ashley Bloomer
  • Treasurer: Michael Grifasi
  • Outreach Coordinator: Rebecca Shaffer Mannion
  • Past President: Karen Cordano
  • Amy Warner, PTO Teacher Representative

July 30, 2020

Please note this letter has been sent to the Board of Education Commissioners, Superintendent Alicea, Dr. DiFlorio, Mr. Barber and Mr. Lawson.