As Superintendent of the Sanford School Department, I feel compelled to express regret and sadness over the killing of George Floyd and other Black Americans through police violence. I care deeply about our students, staff, and the Sanford community. With this caring comes a responsibility not only to condemn violence but also to provide justice, education, and every opportunity for every student - no matter their race, religion, sexuality, or gender.

I believe in a future of peace and prosperity for all of our students. Equity, inclusion, respect and the acceptance of diversity are important for a positive climate and culture in education. To end racism and bias, we must continue to learn and to listen with an open heart. The work is challenging, but necessary, and we must do it together.

One of our District’s pillars for student success centers around building a school community whose climate and culture fosters an environment where everyone engages in positive interactions, attitudes and behaviors. A school community free of discrimination and bias is a top priority. Recently, we have taken the following steps to address diversity, equity and inclusion:

  • Understanding Bias training for all Sanford High School students through Brandon Baldwin of the Office of Civil Rights

  • Targeted Understanding Bias training for members of the Sanford High School Civil Rights Team through Brandon Baldwin of the Office of Civil Rights

  • Understanding Bias training designed specifically for all Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center staff through Brandon Baldwin of the Office of Civil Rights

  • WORDS Matter interactive training provided by John Jenkins for all Sanford high School coaches and athletes.

  • Ripple Effects of Culture; Foundational Approaches to Navigating Difference through Equality training provided by Maine Intercultural Communication Consultants for Sanford School Department administrators

  • Restorative Justice implementation and support in all Sanford schools

  • Challenge Day training provided by national Challenge Day speakers and local participants for Sanford’s middle and high school students; Challenge Day activities are designed to increase personal power and self-esteem, shift dangerous peer pressure to positive peer support and eliminate the acceptability of teasing, violence and all forms of oppression for students.

I recognize that we still have a lot of work to do. With empathy and understanding, I hope that one day we can assure all children in Sanford, no matter their skin color, that they are safe, they are valued, and their lives matter. Please join me in pledging to replace racism and hate, wherever it exists, with peace, kindness and love and to find peaceful and supportive ways to promote positive change in our schools and community.



Matt Nelson, Superintendent


State Information

Civil Rights in Maine Schools, website created and administered by the Office of the Maine Attorney General

Holocaust and Human
Rights Center of Maine, Augusta based organization promoting universal respect for human rights through outreach and education

Dept. of Education: Statement & Resources for Juneteenth, resources for teaching and learning about Juneteenth, the oldest nationally-celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States

Information for Educators/Parents (Elementary)

embracerace, Massachusetts organization dedicated to "raising a generation of children who are thoughtful, informed and brave about race"

Teaching Tolerance, A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center created to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy

Video - Race Conversation, an eleven minute ABC News "Nightline" segment  which brought together a diverse group of parents, children and officers to have frank conversations about race, justice and the role of police

Video – A Conversation About Growing Up Black, a five minute New York Times Op-Ed documentary in which young black men explain the particular challenges they face growing up in America

Beautiful Blackbird Children's Book Festival inspires children to read, write, or illustrate as well as raise the visibility of the extensive community and culture of Black and African American Authors and Illustrators.

Information for Educators/Parents (Secondary)

Teaching Tolerance, A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center created to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy 

Video – Black Parents Explain How to Deal with Police, popular 2017 five minute Cut.com video

Video – How to Raise a Black Son in America, 2015 five minute Ted Talk with Clint Smith

Additional Resources

Sanford School Department Affirmative Action Plan – Policy AC-R, which prohibits discrimination against and harassment of employees, candidates for employment, students and others with rights to admission or access to school programs, activities or premises on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, ancestry or national origin, or disability

Anti-Defamation League - an organization formed in 1913 to address anti-antisemitism;  it now includes fighting  cyberhate, bullying, bias in schools and in the criminal justice system, terrorism, hate crimes, coercion of religious minorities, and contempt for anyone who is different.