Board Of Education Approves Equity And Diversity Resolution
The Board of Education approved a “Resolution on Equity and Diversity” at its meeting on July 7, following a local push to examine diversity in the community and school system.
Superintendent of Schools Dr Lorrie Rodrigue said the resolution “is a strong starting point” that shows the district’s intentions. She added that she has recently had “honest conversations” with students, alumni, and local family members about racism and bias in the Newtown Public School system.
Board Chair Michelle Embree Ku said the resolution was a joint effort and she thanked those who helped.
Reflecting on what she has heard in the community and her efforts with helping to create the resolution, board member Rebekah Harriman-Stites said there is currently a lack of a safe and clear way to report incidents of racism in the school district.
“I think it is important to note that what we have right now is really not working and we need to address it in a real way,” Harriman-Stites said during later discussion about wording in the resolution.
After three changes, the resolution was unanimously approved by the board with an understanding, according to the meeting’s discussion, that the resolution is only the beginning. Dr Rodrigue said updates will be shared with the board as efforts are made within the district.
The resolution, as shared by the district following the meeting, follows in full.
Resolution, Promoting Equity & Diversity
Whereas, we believe that all students should be inspired to attain and apply the knowledge and skills and attributes that lead to personal success while becoming a contributing member of a dynamic global society;
Whereas, we know that every student in our care has the right to an equitable educational experience — regardless of race, religion, ability, ethnicity, identity, socioeconomic status, or gender;
Whereas, we agree that institutional racism and bias promote barriers to student learning, create academic gaps, and directly conflict with the core values and beliefs of Newtown Public Schools;
Whereas, we must vow to confront all incidents of inherent bias and racism in our schools and hold all individuals accountable for their actions;
Whereas, we value differences in others’ beliefs, intellectual ideas, and backgrounds;
Whereas, we promote an appreciation of diverse cultures, groups, people, and perspectives;
Whereas, we celebrate the individual academic, social, and civic contributions of individuals within our school community;
Whereas, student, parent, staff, and community voices are integral in building a climate of trust, respect, and dignity while creating opportunities that minimize disparities in educational outcomes;
Whereas, we believe that continuous improvement requires the courage to change long-standing biases and institutional norms;
Now, therefore, the Newtown Board of Education resolves to:
• support the development of academic pathways, instructional activities, extracurricular opportunities, and field experiences that promote a richer awareness of culture and racial diversity;
• review and monitor policies on diversity, inclusion, and equity;
• review curriculum in grades K-12 through the lens of multicultural and diverse perspectives;
• establish a clear protocol that records and reports incidents of racism occurring within the schools and holds all staff and students accountable for their actions;
• review and employ mechanisms (e.g., anonymous tips, trusted adults) to allow students and staff to share sensitive or confidential information that will help in the investigation of acts of bullying, harassment, and racism;
• continue to support best practices and social/emotional programs and resources to ensure that every student feels safe in a supportive environment;
• provide training for all staff aimed at maintaining a safe, inclusive, and equitable learning environment for all students, including students of color;
• support the superintendent’s initiatives in creating community conversations in diversity and equity that will lead to systemic improvements.