Superintendent Clint Christopher opened up Monday night’s board meeting with the following: “Right now we have students in our schools who don’t feel safe. I take that very personally. It’s not acceptable. Every student’s lived experience must be that they feel safe, that they are seen, and that they are heard and valued. Every student… Our students need to see a difference and feel a change in their daily lived experience. So do you. We can do better. We must.”
Christopher’s remarks preceded an extended Open Forum during which many community members voiced their anger, hurt, frustration, and concern over racial incidents in the district.
During the board meeting, Asst. Superintendent Amy LaDue provided an update on ongoing work on equity and inclusion within the district, which includes the following:
A draft of the district’s Equity Action Framework will be completed on May 3rd. Over 50 feedback sessions were held to shape and inform the equity vision to define the “what” and the “why” of this work, as well as the framework to define the “how.” The draft will be finalized and adopted by an Equity Advisory Council. An associated action plan will be developed to put the equity vision and framework to practice and provide both timelines and expected outcomes.
This spring, Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, a University of Minnesota professor, will start a districtwide equity audit. The audit will include an analysis of student achievement and discipline data, a review of district policies and practices as well as information gathered from students, parents and staff. This will help identify priority areas to address, recommendations, and benchmarks for goal-setting and accountability.
The district is also working to identify action steps to diversify our staff through accelerating our recruitment and retention efforts. The district is also re-posting the equity coordinator position, currently vacant, but elevating it to a director position in acknowledgement of how important this work is and how foundational to the success of the district.
In response to recent incidents, on Friday, Chaska High School administration will be delivering a message to our student body to reinforce what we believe as a school community, making clear what our expectations are for conduct, and what the consequences will be for those who choose to engage in derogatory or hurtful language or actions. In conjunction with the assembly there will be classroom conversations that focus on our school norms, what students can expect from teachers, and what students can do to support each other. In addition, open forums and meetings for staff are taking place to engage in dialogue around these topics.
Consultant Stan Alleyne will be supporting focused equity and inclusion work first with Chaska High School administration, staff, and students, and then broadening those efforts to district leadership. Through that work, we will begin changing the culture and climate to be more transparent, open to diversity and willing to adapt to and embrace diverse students and families. Our school and district leadership and staff will have increased confidence and knowledge in diversity, inclusion and equity work.
GET INVOLVED: The district is currently seeking applicants for the Equity Advisory Council. The Council will provide direction and leadership as well as serve as a lens to Eastern Carver County Schools in implementing change. More information is available here. Deadline for submitting a statement of interest is Friday, May 3rd at noon. Membership will be determined collaboratively by the superintendent and a group of community members.