Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Statement on Charlottesville

The following message was distributed to Jeffco Public Schools staff, families, and community today, regarding the recent violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. As this is a community concern, I’d welcome any feedback or critique of the message I sent.

Dear Jeffco Community, Families, Students, and Staff,

The events in Charlottesville, VA and what they mean for our country going forward weigh heavily on many of us. The purpose of this memo is to address how Jeffco Public Schools will respond to this event in terms of the operation of our schools – and how we can use this as an authentic learning experience for our students.

Let me begin by stating, unambiguously, every one of our public schools is a safe place for all children and students in our community. This commitment to serve and welcome all is at the core of public education’s moral purpose.

As Americans, we value and cherish the right to speak our minds as guaranteed by the First Amendment. At Jeffco Public Schools, we respect the right of any person or group to, peacefully, express their views and opinions.

However, acts or expressions which threaten any student’s right to enter our schools, to feel safe, and to have the opportunity to learn will not be tolerated and will be subject to applicable district bullying/antiharassment policies and/or state or federal criminal law.

Our schools are not disconnected from our community or the nation. Discussions and feelings about the violence in Charlottesville, VA and the subsequent reactions around the country, will make their way into our schools – whether we are ready for them or not. As we have done when other tragedies present themselves, we will work to ensure that we meet the social/emotional needs of students impacted by this event.

While this presents challenges, it also brings the opportunity to engage students in an authentic and timely learning experience on issues relating to free speech, tolerance, race, leadership, and historical context. 

District curriculum and instructional staff have prepared resources to support our teachers in deciding how they will engage with students on this event and related topics. We entrust our classroom teachers and building principals to make professional decisions about the age-appropriateness of these discussions, as well as when and where activities related to this learning might take place. Instruction will be within the Board-adopted content standards and curricula, and will follow the usual district processes related to teaching controversial topics and alternative learning activities.

We encourage you to consider speaking with your family about these matters, considering your own family values and context.

On behalf of all of us at Jeffco Public Schools, we are grateful for the opportunity to serve your family, and to be part of this wonderful community.

Kind regards,

Jason E. Glass, Ed.D. Superintendent & Chief Learner

The full document can be accessed here.

 

36 thoughts on “Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Statement on Charlottesville

  1. How can parents review the resources prepared to support teachers in deciding how they will engage with students on this event and related topics?

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  2. The only reason you are choosing to use this as education in nature- is to further brainwash America’s children into your leftisist idealogy and indocrination!

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    1. Hi Laurel – I really don’t see it that way. I believe our public schools have a responsibility to prepare our students to be citizens in our constitutional republic. Toward that end, it is important that we create constructive ways for students to engage with theses sorts of topics and reach their own decisions.

      As for your allegation of “leftist ideology and indoctrination,” my statement affirms our Constitutional commitment to free speech and expression. It also affirms that our public schools are welcoming to all families and students. I do not see how these two concepts are partisan, but I am open to hearing your perspective.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and engaging.

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  3. I appreciate Dr. Glass’s statement and Jeffco’s efforts to engage students in difficult, but extremely necessary, conversations and learning opportunities. Changing how we relate to each other in this country, and addressing hatred, bias, and racism depends heavily on what we are teaching our children. Our educational system can have a huge impact on the future of our country and world by consistently and repeatedly addressing these difficult topics with students (not just after a tragedy). When these conversations and lessons become commonplace and comfortable, that’s when true change can occur. I hope that every teacher in Jeffco – K-12 – will use the teaching materials listed in the curriculum both now and repeatedly, and Teaching Tolerance materials become a regular part of the curriculum in every classroom.

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  4. If you are , indeed, non partisan in your approach to these issues, how can you possibly suggest using The Southern Poverty Law Center as a credible resource? It is a radical left wing organization that has nothing to do with the South and the only poverty it has alleviated is that of its founder and his cronies who make millions out of identifying “hate groups” so that their own political agenda can be advanced. The FBI no longer uses them as a source for anything and it has been discredited by many other organizations who strive for objectivity. If you really are willing to provide your teachers and their students with a balanced approach to the events of the day, I will be happy to provide you with sources that explore an alternative view to that of the radical left. Believe it or not, such views do exist and their elucidation would help avoid the legitimate criticism of folks like Laurel and other concerned parents. In full disclosure, I have an organization called Team America which has been identified as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I challenge anyone to go on the site and see what the SPLC deems hateful. We are focused on stopping illegal immigration and committed to the rule of law. If the definition of “Hate Group” is one that spews false accusations designed to inflame passions and divide our already balkanized society, The Southern Poverty Law Center fits the bill perfectly. I will also be happy to speak to any class on the topic of Charlottesville and its aftermath. If you choose to bring these very controversial topics into the classroom, certainly it should be done for the purpose of education and not indoctrination. That means exposing students to both sides of the issue.

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    1. Rep. Tancredo,

      Thanks for engaging on this important issue. It indeed must be distressing to be associated with something labelled a “hate group.”

      Please send me any documents or perspectives which you feel are missing from our listed resources. I’d be happy to have our curriculum team review them for quality, alignment to our standards, and appropriateness for classroom use and we will consider them as resources for issues such as the Charlottesville conflict. Regrettably, I fear this will not be the last time we will need to have these discussions.

      Also, I appreciate your willingness to come and visit our classes and speak about these important issues. Several members of our staff and community read this blog and I’ll rely on them to decide when and if that’s appropriate for a classroom discussion.

      I’ll let others discern for themselves what to make of several of the points you make here. For me, I just wish to express my appreciation for your engagement.

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      1. As a parent of a middle school child is jeffco I am fully backing what Mr. Tancredo is saying here. The SPLC has no place in this community as a resource and I am very concerned as a citizen of the US and resident of Jefferson County that my tax dollars are going to wages and this sort. Your efforts with mill levy’s and tax increase requests are not going to pass if you continue down this path. At some point the vast majority of parents are going to put their foot down. And we ARE paying attention. I find it reprehensible that someone feels SPLC is an appropriate affiliation. This parent and those parents I know are mortified.

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      2. Thanks, Chris. We are currently evaluating Mr. Tancredo’s request in accordance with our curriculum challenge policies. We certainly wish to confront issues related to bigotry and intolerance, but provide quality curricular resources for teachers to consider in doing so. For the record, there are no current mill levy and tax increase efforts, but I will take your advice into account if we get down that road. Thanks much for engaging.

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      3. Mr. Glass,
        I mean no disrespect. It’s obviously a charged issue. So I would ask respectfully if you would comment on chatter online about this. Eye on Jeffco Schoolboard is reporting that you have not followed policy by approving this curriculum yourself with allowing for a public commentary session and three committees to review. I think that’s why this is becoming an inflamed issue. That would violate district policy. Input from the public citizens is required. I see it not? Can you just comment on that? I’m reading about you in Iowa and Eagle and looking at your background. So I’m thinking you are brave enough to at least have a dialogue on here. That I do respect. But the board of Education has to review “learning resources” material first. That has not happened. So can you comment further on this?

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      4. No disrespect taken, Chris. I appreciate the opportunity to engage and think it is important that we model how difficult issues can be discussed reasonably, respectfully, and honestly – where we can try and find common ground and workable, pragmatic solutions.

        I have not read “Eye on Jeffco” and do not typically engage with such anonymous groups. Clearly, I stand behind my words and actions and am happy to take on tough issues – but I just can’t do so when the rules aren’t the same for everyone. I think people ought to have the courage to stand behind the statements they make and own them, and I certainly try and walk that talk.

        My response to your question is a bit technical, but I will do my best to be clear and direct.

        Policies on instruction fall in what are called the “I” series. These are administrative policies, meaning that they are effectively directions from the Superintendent on how issues and situations should be handled. The Superintendent may amend, waive, or change administrative policies at any time and it is up to the Superintendent to interpret and implement them. These administrative policies are different than say Board policies, which only the Board can change, or policies covered by collective bargaining agreements, which can only be changed through negotiations with associations or a process included in a district’s master agreement.

        With all that technical explanation out of the way, I believe “Eye on Jeffco’s” critique relies on a misapplication of district policy.

        They(him/her?) seem to claim that policy IJ should be applied, which would trigger the kind of extensive review you mention.

        However, this particular curricular issue more aptly falls under policy IJK, which covers supplemental materials.

        These resources in question were optional for teachers and were intended for a very specific and time bound purpose. This could be contrasted with say a curriculum change to all high school algebra courses, which would clearly fall under policy IJ (which has the extensive review and input process) and not IJK (which does not contain the extensive process).

        Of course, one can argue that policy IJ should be applied and not IJK. However, as I previously mentioned, these are administrative policies and it is my responsibility to interpret and implement them. In my professional judgment, policy IJK applies and not policy IJ.

        One may certainly disagree with my professional judgment – it happens every day! However, I don’t think the argument that we have ignored district policy holds water.

        The more germane issue is the question as to whether the supplemental materials were appropriate or not. There is also a policy covering this situation, which is KEC-R. We have received a challenge from Mr. Tancredo and are reviewing it currently. That is really the appropriate avenue for us to resolve the issue.

        If, after that review and based on the evidence, I feel the appeal has merit, we will change our curriculum accordingly. Alternatively, if I do not then we will explain that to the complaintant and also give them the opportunity to explain further and be heard. My decision may be appealed to the Board of Education.

        Sorry for the long answer – but that is my response to your inquiry. I am grateful for your question and the respectful approach.

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  5. Will gladly send suggested materials but most important among them will be a compendium of critical analysis of the SPLA in hopes you will revise your list and remove it as a credible source. It is anything but. Do I provide it in this space or send it to a different address?

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  6. I appreciate your offer to have your responses and you are right, it is distressing to be associated with something called a “hate group” and this is especially so when it is done by an organization that has no authority or credibility in the field and has a very radical political agenda as its purpose. Even more distressing is the fact that some in the media, and apparently your curriculum review team found the SPLC to be “appropriate” for the classroom. Please let me know if, after your team reviews it, you still believe the SPLC is intellectually honest enough to be included in your memo to teachers. At that point I will know whether there is any point in taking up your time or mine in the development and review of materials that would dare to take a different point of view on these very complex and emotion laden subjects. It is my sincere hope that both of us are equally committed to intellectual honesty in the classroom, as well as in the public policy arena.

    Have tried to attach the compendium I mentioned but not having much luck. Will try to cut and paste but will also send to your email.

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  7. FACT SHEET: The Flimflam Side of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

    What the liberal media won’t tell you about the nation’s premier leftist attack dog

    CNN recently touted and published a map prepared by the SPLC purporting to identify “hate groups” across the nation. Many journalists and others have been misled into citing the SPLC as a nonpartisan chronicler of extremist “hate groups,” when in fact, the SPLC is behaving more and more like an attack dog for the progressive left.
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/17/us/hate-groups-us-map-trnd/index.html

    Selected reports that challenge the media’s worshipful indulgence of SPLC smears

    HARPERS MAGAZINE, “The Southern Poverty Business Model” https://harpers.org/blog/2007/11/the-southern-poverty-business-model/
    “Dees is a con man and fraud, as I and others, such as U.S. Circuit Judge Cecil Poole, have observed and as has been documented by John Egerton, Harper’s, the Montgomery Advertiser in its “Charity of Riches” series, and others.”

    FOREIGN POLICY, “The Hate List: Is America being overrun by right-wing militants?” http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/03/12/the-hate-list/
    “Many news organizations, from wire services to TV networks, covered the new [SPLC] figures uncritically…. Very few journalists cover domestic extremism on a regular basis, and those who do tend to work for publications that have an overt political slant.”

    DAILY WIRE, “7 Things you need to know about the SPLC”
    http://www.dailywire.com/news/8967/7-things-you-need-know-about-southern-poverty-law-aaron-bandler#
    “The reality is that the SPLC is a leftist hack advocacy group which picks and chooses what standards to apply to its labels, consistently turning a blind eye to leftist and pro-Democrat groups and individuals while targeting, often unfairly, their enemies on the right.”

    POLITICO.COM/Magazine, “Has a civil rights stalwart lost its way?”
    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/28/morris-dees-splc-trump-southern-poverty-law-center-215312
    “Is tough immigration control really a form of hate, or just part of the political conversation? Does rejecting a religion make you an extremist? At a time when the line between “hate group” and mainstream politics is getting thinner …fanning liberal fears, while a great opportunity for the SPLC, might be a problem for the nation.”

    CAPITAL RESEARCH CENTER, “SPLC: Wellspring of manufactured hate”
    https://capitalresearch.org/article/southern-poverty-law-center-wellspring-of-manufactured-hate/
    “Some of the people and groups on the SPLC’s hate lists genuinely do express hatred and bigotry …. But mixed in are many well-known, widely respected individuals and groups who have taken principled positions on matters of national importance. Their only sin is their outspoken opposition to the Left’s radical designs.”

    CITY JOURNAL, “SPLC: a demagogic bully”
    https://www.city-journal.org/html/demagogic-bully-15370.html
    “The SPLC demonizes respectable political opponents as ‘hate groups’ – and keeps its coffers bulging.”

    (More /over)
    SPLC /2

    CNN, A rare news story about a hate group NOT listed by SPLC—Antifa http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/us/unmasking-antifa-anti-fascists-hard-left/index.html
    CAPITAL RESEARCH CENTER, “The Trump Effect: How SPLC mobilizes schoolteachers to radicalize young people to perpetuate hate”
    https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-trump-effect/

    CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, “Does SPLC target conservatives?” https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2016/0218/Does-the-Southern-Poverty-Law-Center-target-conservatives

    NEW YORK TIMES, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “Why is the S.P.L.C. targeting liberals?” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/opinion/southern-poverty-law-center-liberals-islam.html

    WASHINGTON EXAMINER, “Bill Maher wants to join lawsuit against SPLC”
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/maher-wants-to-be-a-part-of-lawsuit-against-southern-poverty-law-center/article/2627000

    NATIONAL REVIEW, “Muslim anti-jihadist group targeted as hate group by SPLC”
    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/449004/anti-radical-muslim-activist-group-targeted-hate-group-southern-poverty-law-center

    GUIDESTAR forced to defend its inclusion of SPLC data in its philanthropy database. https://trust.guidestar.org/guidestar-and-data-from-the-splc

    THE FEDERALIST, “12 ways the SPLC is a scam profiting by hatemongering”
    http://thefederalist.com/2017/05/17/12-ways-southern-poverty-law-center-scam-profit-hate-mongering/

    CRISIS Magazine, “The New Black List”
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2017/new-black-list

    HUFFPOST, “Mission Creep at SPLC”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-m-swain/mission-creep-and-the-sou_b_255029.html

    THE DAILY BEAST, “Is Family Research Council a Hate Group?”
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/is-the-family-research-council-really-a-hate-group

    DAILY CALLER, “FBI Scrubs SPLC from its list of approved civil rights resources”
    http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/03/exclusive-fbi-removed-splc-and-adl-from-civil-rights-resources-pages-because-of-a-number-of-concerns/

    BREITBART JERUSALEM, “Former Israeli ambassador slams SPLC for defamation and blacklisting”
    http://www.breitbart.com/jerusalem/2016/12/15/israeli-ambassador-ron-dermer-slams-southern-poverty-law-center-defamers-blacklisters/

    WEEKLY STANDARD, “King of the fearmongers”
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/king-fearmongers/article/714573?page=2

    The Southern Poverty Law Center demonizes respectable political opponents as “hate groups”
    (More /over)

    SPLC / 3

    Examples of SPLC defamation of conservative groups

    Below are examples of organizations currently labeled by SPLC as “hate groups” — on the same roster as the KKK, the Aryan Brotherhood and Stormfront.

    Judge for yourself: Is the SPLC in the business of identifying only true extremist groups that spew hatred and condone violence, or is it a highly partisan organization raking in tons of foundation grants — and media plaudits — by slandering conservative and patriotic opponents of radical Islamist jihad, illegal immigration and the left’s “social justice warrior” agenda?
    _____________________________________________________________________________

    ACT FOR AMERICA
    http://www.actforamerica.org/

    ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM
    https://www.adflegal.org/

    CATHOLIC FAMILY MINISTRIES
    https://www.catholicfamilyministries.com/resources

    CLARION PROJECT
    https://clarionproject.org/

    DAVID HOROWITZ FREEDOM CENTER
    https://www.horowitzfreedomcenter.org/

    CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES
    https://cis.org/

    CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY
    https://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/

    COLORADO ALLIANCE FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM
    https://www.CAIRCO.org/

    FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL
    https://www.frc.org/

    FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM
    http://www.fairus.org/

    IMMIGRATION REFORM LAW INSTITUTE
    https://www.irli.org

    JIHAD WATCH
    https://www.jihadwatch.org/

    VDARE FOUNDATION
    http://www.vdare.com/

    August 2017

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    1. Thank you, Mr. Tancredo. This (and your email) have been received and I will send them on to our curriculum team for review. I will respond once we have had the chance to review this. Thanks again for your interest in education and Jeffco Public Schools.

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      1. Again; with respect Sir. It is not up to your team to review. That is for the Board of Education and the procedure here to allow this material is in violation of district policy and public rights. Is it not? Can you cite where you have followed policy on this? That’s all I’m asking for commentary wise.

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      2. Thanks for taking the time to respond. I think that response can help representative Tancredo. I think in laymens terms you are saying we have grey area and I know parents are quite concerned. Grey area always concerns me. Reasonably so though I understand its merits. I do appreciate your humor on it. I’ve no doubt the position you have comes with challenges. Please consider that despite what polls show, and I do think that polls prove quite subjective. Jeffco, despite efforts, is still a conservative county. So is Colorado and a lot of parents like me. We care deeply about Colorado and are concerned about the direction of its politics and policies. For the record I’m a moderate and lean slightly conservative but believe if something has merit then-ok. So extreme views like SPLC are intensely concerning. I hope to see a good decision being made on this. Thanks again.

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  8. It appears your “cirriculum” is nothing but leftist propaganda trying to brainwash children. As most people know, SPLC is in itself a hate group, yet you endorse it as part of your propaganda package. The “cirriculum” used in NOT balanced, it only promotes a far left agenda.

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    1. Thanks for your input, Cheryl. You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but respectfully, the claim of “brainwashing” smacks of typical partisan hyperbole. I’d ask you to provide any evidence a student has been “brainwashed” through a classroom discussion of the events related to Charlottesville.

      We do have a request for review of the materials from Mr. Tancredo, which we are currently evaluating. I am happy to let you know the outcome of that review.

      Thanks again for engaging and sharing your opinion.

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      1. Perhaps the word brainwashing smacks of “typical partisan hyperbole” because it is exactly what you are trying to do. If brainwashing is NOT your aim, then why are you only including lefist groups such as SPLC in your cirriculim?

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      2. According to EyeOnJeffcoSchoolBoard you personally Mr. Jason Glass is the individual who went outside school board policy and approved these sites. They say you subverted policy. Can you just comment? I am not trying to be rude, but I find it upsetting that you don’t even engage parents or put out any discussions about curriculums prior to making personal selections. You are telling people you will consult the board/district with the information Mr. Tancredo provided. I read your background about Iowa and Eagle so I’m following this closely and would appreciate any comments on what is being said online. My understanding is you are supposed to allow for public commentary and 3 separate

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  9. The world is a cruel place. I believe that all people can succeed. The biggest problem is that most people want a free ride. Our president is trying to change our problems and all the other people in office are fighting him on it. Not fair to me and the rest of us. Let legal people work. Then we can help others. Let our history stay so we may learn from it. I am not a racist but the groups of crazy people that hate our law are turning me. I have had enough of everyone ‘s hatred. Live by the law and then we can help everyone. Do not let everyone help themselves to what you work for. It is one planet and we need to help each other. Sent with LOVE

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  10. Taking a look at all the ciriculum in your propaganda program, it only proves my point. EVERY single source you use is extreme far left. It would be quite easy for you yourself and those creating the teachings to find articles that are far more fair, less extreme, or provide the other side, but you chose NOT to.

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    1. Looks like we will have to agree to disagree, Cheryl. The offer remains open for you to send me evidence we are brainwashing children, or to provide other resources related to teaching tolerance and respect. I appreciate your passion on this subject.

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      1. You will not get an additional dime or support from me as a parent of three kids in Jeffco. I’m am disgusted by your patent disregard of what people are telling you and your standfast defense of a system that is no longer unbiased. Let alone the time with which you respond to people that comes off as elitist and patronizing. Jason, with respect, you cannot deny the obvious trend over the last thirty years that public school systems lean left and that in and of itself isn’t the reason for all this upset. The reason is you are maintaining and underscoring a policy that has a far left agenda such as SPLC. This group and others like it have no business in what should be non partisan PUBLICLY funded schools. I’m out. We’ll be voting against Jeffco funding and look at private schools. If you don’t post this comment I will be sending it on social media just the same. It is copied and pasted. I fear you may be censoring this site.

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  11. Hi Ken,

    As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve received Mr. Tancredo’s request to review the materials and are doing so currently. As for your other claims, you are (of course) free to share your posts (and this page) however you choose and the only comments to this site I have not allowed are ones that have been profane, which attempted to sell something, or were pornographic in nature. I think one can see the discourse present on this post and let that stand as evidence that there is no censoring happening based on legitimate and (mostly) respectful differences of opinion.

    Best of luck to you and your family. We will miss you.

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  12. Hi Mr. Glass,

    What were the findings? Are you able to revise the sources and take SPLC out of the equation? Perhaps add other more moderate and middle of the road sources instead? Did you follow up with Mr. Tancredo?
    Thanks for any updates. Would like to follow how this ends up.
    Respectfully,
    Chris

    Like

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