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ARVADA, Colo. — The superintendent of a private Christian school in Arvada is blaming a recent Denver7 report on alleged racist incidents at the school for inciting protests and creating safety concerns.
Andrew Hasz, the superintendent Faith Christian Academy, wrote in an email to parents that rumors of a protest prompted him and others to postpone Tuesday’s board meeting where they planned to discuss the allegations with the community.
Hasz’s email, posted in its entirety below, called Denver7’s report “unbalanced, misleading, and untruthful,” after Denver7’s Theresa Marchetta talked to parents and students about their concerns of what they call a “racist culture” at the school.
Dear FCA Parents, Students and Staff,
Many of you may have seen the report that aired on KMGH-TV Channel 7 last night. Unfortunately, the news station decided to run an unbalanced, misleading, and untruthful story. The reporter contacted me at the last minute providing very little detail about the nature of her inquiry. I immediately reached out by phone and email. The reporter chose to use an edited portion of my email as my official statement in the story about FCA. We simply had no opportunity to respond yesterday, so we have issued a statement to Channel 7 today.
I'm disappointed to tell you that as a result of the news report, we understand that outside groups are planning to protest our scheduled Board meeting tonight. I apologize about the late notice on this decision.
Keeping in mind the safety and security of everyone, we must postpone our Board meeting to a later date, when our FCA community can safely gather for a productive, engaging meeting.
Thank you for submitting a variety of topics to discuss, they included:
-Drugs/Alcohol - Vaping -Volunteering
-Function of the School Advisory Board -Teacher Certifications
-Technology strategy -Uniforms
-School Chaplains -Racism/bullying/hazing
-High School and Elementary facility updates
Although the news story inaccurately portrayed FCA, we will continue to proactively address any issues regarding race, harassment, bullying, hazing, etc.
As always, feel free to email as us with your thoughts. Thank you for understanding our safety concerns.
In another email, Hasz reassured parents there had not been a single threat to the school, but said they were taking the step of adding security personnel to their campuses.
In light of recent events, concerns have been expressed to me regarding the safety of our school campuses. I know that this topic is on our minds at all times, but it is understandably heightened due to the slanderous accusations being brought against our school. First, I want to reassure you that we have not received a single threat of any kind. That being said, we are taking extra precautions and have retained the services of security personnel for each of our campuses for the near future. Our desire is for all families to have peace of mind knowing that we are working to be proactive regarding student safety.
The reports brought to light detailed concerns from parents, students and alumni about what they perceive is a climate of racism and intolerance at Faith Christian Academy.
Hasz was asked to sit down for an on-camera interview and to provide the school policy for dealing with these types of concerns. He has declined to do so.
Reaction to the stories have been passionate from all sides.
Some people have emailed to say that racism is not an issue at Faith Christian, calling reports to the contrary "fake news."
Others, ranging from current students to parents, to alumni are thanking Denver7 for bringing the topic forward and are sharing their own experiences.
Here is the initial email sent out by Faith Christian regarding these stories:
I am certain by now that the majority of you have seen or heard about the news story that Channel 7 aired yesterday about our school. I know that a situation like this generates many questions and concerns, and I wanted to share with you the official statement I have sent to the media. Thank you for your ongoing prayers for our school and our students.
At no time during my 22 years at Faith Christian Academy (FCA) as a teacher, coach, athletic director, principal, and now superintendent, has our school believed the topic of racism to be inappropriate or something to be ignored. As a Christian school, our beliefs are founded on the Bible which makes it clear that all people are created in the image of God and thus any attempt to de-value a person on any basis is an affront to God Himself. Furthermore, the mandate of Jesus for our lives is that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind and that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are unequivocally committed to these values.
For this reason, untold hours have been dedicated to working with board members, staff, students, and parents on the issues discussed at a Jan. 12 high school assembly. This included two additional high school assemblies, one evening community meeting, and teacher in-service time committed to this topic. We also made time for administration and board members to meet with every community member who had any concerns which they desired to voice, and we have been following up on each of these concerns (most of which were being brought up for the very first time). We will continue to address the topic in the future, and I assure you that as a school we absolutely do not tolerate racist behavior; we take strong action, even up to disenrollment, when substantiated incidents occur.
I am most proud of the response by our student body who have wrestled through this together. On Monday, March 5, they took the lead in our weekly assembly and presented a powerful, student-led message of unity and acceptance of all students.
As would be true in any school, we have dealt with incidents of unacceptable behavior related to race. The heart of our administration and staff has never been to intentionally ignore issues related to race, and we will continue to vigilantly deal with them whenever they arise in the future. Our families make incredible sacrifices to attend our school and simply would not do so if there was a culture of racism or bias. On the contrary, there are so many aspects of our daily school life which demonstrate a love and acceptance of all people. We invite students from around the world to be a part of our school through our exchange program, and we have a vibrant and intentional focus on outreach to our community and throughout the world. Many of these activities can be found highlighted on our school website.
Finally, the perception that a recent personnel change was linked to bringing up the topic of racism is simply untrue.
It is unfortunate that Channel 7 did not fully investigate the story before airing it.
Faith Christian Academy
Late Wednesday, Hasz responded via email to questions from Marchetta.
He said the school received "multiple reports" of calls for protests at last night's meeting and board members cancelled it for the safety of parents. He does not explain why he and the board felt their safety would be threatened.
Hasz also explained Faith Christian uses a points system to discipline students who violate their behavioral policy, including in cases of alleged racism, and that administrators "systematically followed up" on concerns presented by a parent interviewed in Marchetta's story.
I am sorry for the delay in response - my days are quite full with school business as well as responding to this situation.
In regards to the cancelled board meeting, we received multiple reports and saw online posts from outside groups calling for protesters to assemble. Having no idea the quantity of people or intent of the groups, our board felt it was best for the safety of our parents to cancel the meeting.
There is no secret in how we address any incidents of racism. Our behavioral policy clearly encompasses this, as well as all other behavioral problems. We operate objectively on a point system similar to a driver’s license. Different levels of behavioral problems carry different point values which could lead to suspensions from school, athletic and activity suspensions, or expulsion. The greater consequences could be reached via an accumulation of several behavioral incidents or immediately by a very severe incident. All of these are in play when it comes to instances of racism.
With the specific concerns of Mrs. Felix, several administrators met with her on January 26th. According to her, this was the first time she had ever met with or shared any concerns with an administrator during her 10 years as a parent of and FCA student. She brought a list of concerns that we carefully listened to. Our initial response was simply to apologize for what she shared - we would never want any student to be treated that way. In the days and weeks that followed the meeting, we systematically followed up on every item she presented and took appropriate disciplinary action (the specifics of those actions are protected by the confidentiality rights of students and staff members involved).
For our student protection and reporting, we utilize not only the traditional methods of students reporting to a counselor or teacher but have also been involved with Safe2Tell from well before it became a state-wide program. As an additional step, we instituted our own email reporting system for any student issue earlier this year.
At this time, we are not looking to pursue any interviews or additional coverage as the safety concerns for our students and community mount every day that this story and slanderous rhetoric is propagated.
Faith Christian Academy