Letter from the PA Board to the Community

Dear Lab Community,

The Mission of the Lab Schools’ Parents’ Association (PA) is to promote educational experience by fostering a spirit of community through the facilitation of communication and cooperation among the Laboratory Schools’ parents, administration, faculty, students and board of directors and to assist in the implementation of school activities.

The PA Board is aware of the many feelings and opinions among parents, faculty, students and administrators around the recent dismissal of a teacher. There are a variety of thoughts and perspectives, and as representatives of the entire parent community, we strive to be receptive to and respectful of all concerns and viewpoints.  

Despite the diversity of views, there is one priority on which we all agree – the wellbeing and healthy development of our students.  The escalation of tensions over the last four weeks has consumed a large mindshare of the administration, faculty, parents, and students.  We are concerned that continued tensions would be detrimental to student development and performance.

Therefore, the PA Board is calling for all parties to return to respectful communication and make a commitment to come together in a thoughtful and productive way for the good of our students, our community and the Institution.

The Strategic Planning process that is currently underway provides the most encouraging and timely framework to move our community forward. The initial report summarizing hours of interviews, focus groups and survey results aptly describes the complexity and countervailing forces that have long existed at the Laboratory Schools. The three-day strategic planning workshop (see 1/18 email from Designshop members) that brought together 60 members of our community – teachers, parents, students, staff, administrators, alumni and University and Board members, resulted in the group successfully meeting their objectives. Of note was their statement:

“Using a constructivist approach, we quickly saw just how much alignment already exists – across all of the different participants – around the goals, desires, and values we have for, and at, Lab. “

The challenges we face are not unlike those our peer schools are facing across the country, and they are not unlike those the Lab Schools’ has faced in the past.  But it is our sincere hope and expectation that we can rise above and become a model of excellence that other schools can look to not just for our academic excellence, but also for a structure of collaborative decision-making – always keeping the students at the forefront of our energies. There are lessons to be learned for us all following recent events.

To that end, and in light of the many calls for transparency and improved communication:

  • The PA has reached out to faculty leadership and hopes to establish regular forums in which to discuss issues that affect students and parents at the various Division levels;
  • The PA is working to understand and clearly communicate the standard processes outlined in the contract when a complaint is brought, or concern raised; and
  • The PA Co-Presidents and Council members will continue to have monthly meetings with their Administrative counterparts to discuss and work through issues and concerns that arise.

The PA Board welcomes thoughts and suggestions from all members of the Lab community and are eager to move forward to support the community at large. Please feel free to email the Board at Parents@ucls.uchicago.edu or to reach out directly to one of the Board members listed in your school directory. As a reminder, we post school-specific communications and community-wide and division specific events to the PA website at www.Labparents.org.

Sincerely and with great hope,

The Parents’ Association Board of the Laboratory Schools