District Superintendent weighs in on George Floyd death, protests

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) On June 3rd, Fairbanks North Star School District Superintendent Karen Gaborik sent a message to the community in which she expressed her thoughts on the death of George Floyd and the protests and riots that have followed around the country.

Gaborik has received both supportive and negative reactions to her message, sent on June 3rd. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)

In the message, she described her feelings in the immediate aftermath of the event as “horror, guilt, anger, incredulousness, passion, sorrow, empathy, helplessness, heartbreak, and fear.”

She also highlighted efforts the borough has made over the years to promote equity and inclusiveness, including a Civil Rights Experience course approved by the school board in April of this year. “It feels like a time of great change and opportunity for great change,” she said.

Gaborik sees the most important work going forward as being in personal relationship building. "Policies, education, training, all of those are important but they're not the entire answer. And so I feel like the real work happens through relationships with people -- and for me, the call to action is for each of us to look at our role in the community, and our circles of influence,” she said.

According to Gaborik, her call to action came as a duty with her position in the community. “I feel very strongly about my role as superintendent in the community, and my role as a community leader, and especially as a leader of public education.”

Gaborik encourages community members to get involved with Fairbanks Coalition Builders, a group which provides education and training in diversity, equity and inclusion. The next community engagement event held by the non-profit organization will take place via Zoom on June 23rd from 5-7pm.

She sees recent events as a chance to reflect and make changes. “As a country, as a community, clearly we have issues that we need to address, and there is an opportunity to do that. I hope we take advantage of this opportunity,” she said.

According to Gaborik, she has received reactions to her message ranging from positive to negative.

Gaborik’s full message can be found here.

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