As we move forward with the upcoming Community Conversation on Race on Tuesday, October 16 at 7:30 pm in the SHS Barbara Gensler Theater and production of To Kill A Mockingbird and post-play talkback session on Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 pm in the SHS Barbara Gensler Theater, I would like to provide you with an update regarding the District’s plan to provide safety and security at both events. To begin, I would like to share background information surrounding the decision to cancel last weekend’s production of To Kill A Mockingbird.
On Thursday, October 11, as our students were preparing for opening night of the production, our District received multiple communications by phone from individuals from outside Shorewood indicating that there would be protests and community action organized to express strong opposition to the production’s sensitive content. These communications were not threatening any specific harm to our students and staff, but were instead strong expressions of opposition to the sensitive language in To Kill A Mockingbird, indicating that we could expect significant protests to take place. We were previously aware that some students may protest the production and felt that we were prepared for that level of protest, however, the escalation of the scope of the protests to include individuals from outside our community heightened our concerns about preparedness to ensure a safe environment.
Given the expectation that there would be potentially sizeable protests organized at the high school that evening, and given the very short amount of time our administration and staff had to prepare for these protests, the decision was made to cancel the production until our District could better prepare and respond to potential protests associated with the production. This was, at the time, considered the best option to ensure preparedness and safety for all concerned.
Again, the communications we received did not indicate that specific threats were being made toward our students and staff. Also, the communications did not indicate that we could anticipate safety or security concerns in our schools or at other District events or activities.
After careful consideration over the weekend, and many conversations with students, staff, families, and community members, the decision was made to schedule a Community Conversation on Race on the evening of Tuesday, October 16 followed by a single, one-night performance of To Kill A Mockingbird and a talkback session on Wednesday, October 17. Cancelling the weekend productions allowed us the time necessary to prepare for the Community Conversation on Race and the one-night performance and talkback session. The District is coordinating with local law enforcement officials to make sure that we have a strong security presence on both Tuesday and Wednesday evening to ensure the safety of our students, staff, families, and community members.
We will share another update tomorrow afternoon with additional information, including more event details and ticket information.