Community Conversation Submitted Questions

A Community Conversation on Equity and Eastern Carver County Schools

Monday, July 22nd
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 
Carver Elementary School

On July 22nd, 2019, more than 150 members of the Eastern Carver County School District community gathered for a community conversation on the district’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.  As part of that evening, the superintendent’s cabinet answered questions from those in attendance. Time constraints prevented answering all the questions in real-time; below are answers to all submitted questions from the event.

Topic: Audit/Survey
 

Question Answer
Dr. Khalifa in his “Islamophobia and Christian Privilege” tells us Islamic culture must be taught in schools but not Judeo-Christian culture.  Why not equal time or no time for either? Eastern Carver County Schools is a public school district and cannot and does not advocate for religion of any kind in or outside the classroom.
Dr. Khalifa’s document on Islamophobia and Christian Privilege – how can we come together, when the person hired for the audit encourages students to celebrate Malcolm X – an activist that supports violence? Also, Keith Ellison, accused of abusing women, same as Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh, an accusation that almost ruined his career but Ellison celebrated? Dr. Khalifa is a nationally-recognized scholar and expert in the area of equity audits and culturally-responsive leadership.  
Why were parents and students’ personal emails and information given to Dr. Khalifa’s organization without our permission? Over the course of any given year, Eastern Carver County Schools may contract out with an organization to do work on its behalf, as it did with Dr. Khalifa’s organization. In order to complete that work, these organizations often need access to information.  The district shares only the information necessary to complete the contracted work. Those organizations operating under contract with the district are bound to the same privacy and data protections as our district. 
Why were parents not notified in advance of the survey being given to our students as per policy? WIth the option to opt out? As per policy? The district did communicate in advance of the survey and per policy, through the 112 online newsletter and an email to families from the superintendent.  That email provided information about both the survey and the audit, indicating it would analyze a number of things, including district policies and practices.  Because the survey was optional for everyone, it did not require consent and any student and parent could simply not participate.  We acknowledge that communication regarding the survey could have been more clear, and we are committed to doing better in the future.    
What percentage of parents and students completed the survey? The survey was completed by 14% of parents and 36% of students.
Almost every parent I talked to did not take the equity survey.  Will we know what percentage of parents took it? What percentage makes it valid/comprehensive? Fourteen percent  of parents completed the survey.

Surveys are tested for validity and reliability. Researchers look at both the number of respondents and demographics to make that determination. This sample is considered valid by the researchers.

Will results of the audit be shared? Yes.  The audit information will be shared publicly, likely in September, and posted on our website.
How deeply embedded will Dr. Khalifa’s teachings and audit be used in “transforming” the school district? Dr. Khalifa is not directing the work of the district. We are aware that there are gaps in student achievement and inconsistency in how some policies are applied across student groups, and the audit will help us focus our work to minimize those gaps and improve the education of all our students. 

This audit is just one piece of broader work to increase equity and inclusion across the district and improve outcomes for all our students, and how, when, and if the audit’s recommendations are implemented will be the decision of the district, not an outside consultant.

What research was done in District 112 to develop the audit questions or was this an off the shelf purchase Dr. Khalifa advertises on his website?  The audit questions were not developed by Eastern Carver Schools.  They were designed by expert researchers in this field and tested for reliability. The strength of the survey comes from it being an independent process with standard questions measured over time and across districts.  
In his remarks Superintendent Clint Christopher mentioned a “staff member in that process” regarding Dr. Khalifa’s program – what does “in that process” mean? Via the University of Minnesota’s Urban Leadership Academy, of which Eastern Carver County Schools is a member district, four district staff participated – with other educators from around the Metro – in the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Academy as part of their professional development.  
If this program is all inclusive why did the audit ask specifically about white teachers? This is a research-based approach aimed at identifying core causes of inequities within education. The questions are aligned with the academic literature and research in these areas.  The audit questions were designed by expert researchers in this field and tested for reliability. 
Why did the survey going out in English when our minority group with largest gaps are non-English speaking? The survey was available in English, Spanish and Somali, the three predominant languages spoken in our district.
What is the assistant superintendent’s role in the CRLI program? Our assistant superintendent is not now nor has she ever been affiliated with or compensated by Ajusted Equity Solutions or the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Institute. Via the University of Minnesota’s Urban Leadership Academy, of which we are a member district, she was part of a cohort of educators that went through the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Academy taught by Dr. Khalifa and Dr. Pekel.  
What PROVEN results does Dr. Khalifa have that you can share? Results will vary from district to district because it is incumbent upon each individual district to determine what audit recommendations they feel are of greatest value and choose to move forward with in terms of implementation.

The audit process and key areas are linked to evidence-based best practices and recommended reforms are connected to literature and studies.  A recent published study is an example: Marshall, S. and Khalifa, M. (2018), “Humanizing school communities”, Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 56 No. 5, pp. 533-545. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEA-01-2018-0018

 

Topic: Policies
Question                    Answer
Is there a plan for anti-racist policies for the district? If yes, will it be district-wide, building-specific, or by age level? The MN School Board Association is the leading policy source for school districts, providing model policies on a number of issues.  They do not currently have a model anti-racism policy, nor are these policies found uniformly around the state though some have adopted policies focused on diversity and/or equity. Eastern Carver County Schools does not currently have an anti-racism policy, nor immediate plans to add such a policy. However, part of the equity audit includes a review of policy and we anticipate it may include suggestions related to this area for consideration. 

Even without a specific anti-racism policy, ECCS does specifically call out race, ethnicity, color, and national origin in Policy 413 – Harassment and Violence Prohibition and 514 – Bullying Prohibition.  These policies are designed to ensure safe environments for students, free from harassment, violence, and bullying based on race and several other protected classes.

Topic: Work with students
 

Question Answer
Is there a plan in place to educate and engage students after a racist incident occurs?

(Similarly: Our district has had at least six significant racial incidents over the last eight months with several egregious enough to gain twin cities media attention as well as national attention – what will you do to truly educate and engage students after a racist incident occurs?)

Our desire is to focus more on effective and proactive dialogue and activities that will result in a decrease of these types of incidents.  An example of such an opportunity is to start the work with teachers equipped to facilitate these complex conversations while connecting them to their individual disciplines (like Social Studies, Art, English, etc.).

The district is also identifying professional development for teachers – and potentially students – around restorative practices.  Restorative practice is more than a philosophy, it’s a series of protocols that provide individuals and groups ways to address concerns in productive and healthy ways to allow those involved to maintain relationships.

Will students be encouraged to feel shame if they’re white? Why? Absolutely not.  The district’s investment in equity work is to ensure that all students – every single one – feels welcome, safe, and included in our schools.
How will the district increase access to all students to clubs and sports?  Most of the after school activities, elementary through middle school, are run by Community Education, and high school athletics and activities by the respective schools. Community Education does not currently deny any student access due to the ability to pay. The high schools also have very robust waiver processes. However, that information isn’t always widely known.

Community Education is working with the Athletics and Activities departments at both high schools to look at our current practices in terms of how we encourage students to register, what offerings are available, and how we provide more clear information regarding financial support for access.

In 2017 a study presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that exposure to racism harms children’s health.  They are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Those kids who suffer from depression and anxiety are then four times as likely to suffer from ADHD.  We know that ADHD, anxiety, and depression affect school performance, participation, and experiences. What resources do you have in place or are planning to utilize to help students and staff address these issues? The district understands and acknowledges that issues related to mental health have a significant impact on education.  In order to personalize each learner’s education, we believe it is critical to provide supports to meet students’ social/emotional/behavioral needs as well as their academic needs.  The district has social workers, counselors, and mental health therapists in all buildings to support student needs. The #Stigma180 professional learning series provides both staff and community members many high quality training opportunities throughout the year.  

A district training pilot on trauma-informed treatment will begin during the 19-20 school year at the Integrated Arts Academy and is planned to expand to more school settings. ECCS has also  established partnerships with Carver County Social Services and Relate Counseling to provide care and treatment options and co-located therapy in the schools.  

G&T children are found in all demographic groups.  However, many qualified children – those who live in poverty, have some disabilities, are from racial and ethnic minority groups, or are learning English – are overlooked for gifted programming.  Overwhelmingly, white and Asian students comprise the majority of GATE programs. 

What are the stats for the district regarding participation by race and income?  Does the district plan to offer training and insight to teachers that centers on the ID of gifted children for all races and incomes?

Would the district consider utilizing teaching protocols that offer multi-level instruction that assures appropriate challenge to ALL students?

ECCS is aware that gaps exist in who these programs serve and we are working to address them.
Students currently identified as gifted and talented include:

American Indian – 0.23%

Asian – 5.0%

Black – 0.86%

Hispanic – 2.58%
White – 89.13%

Two or more – 2.19%

Current Advanced Placement completed courses by student group:

American Indian – 0.22%

Asian – 5.52%

Black – 2.22%

Hispanic -4.96%

White – 84.96%

Two or more – 2.1%

The District is currently reviewing all Gifted Services offerings and programming. Gifted Services teachers and administrators at different levels have made site visits to other schools and districts, attended local professional learning experiences including the National Gifted Conference held in Minneapolis in November 2018, and reviewed “best practice” research.  This is all being done with the goal of providing services that best align with gifted learners’ needs. Talent development is a component of the planning as well as ensuring that identification practices do not discriminate based on race, gender, income, or circumstance.

 

Topic: Recruiting/Retention
Question Answer
We need an advisory council  for HR to help with recruitment/retention strategies.  ECCS Human Resources is working closely with the director of equity and inclusion and other resources to evaluate and improve recruitment and retention strategies. As appropriate, the Equity Advisory Council may be asked to provide input regarding these strategies.
What specific steps are you taking to bring diverse educators into the district? Are there teacher openings available?

How are you ensuring equitable hiring practices to make sure all students are reflected in our staff?


What work needs to be done to increase retention and recruitment of diverse staff?

How will the district promote, recruit, retain staff of color in our buildings? Grow your own, help support higher ed?

The district is continually working to improve our outcomes in this area, and so this answer will evolve with time.  Currently, the district is deepening its connection to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, which is known for having increased diversity in its student populations. These relationships aren’t just to bring candidates for full-time positions, but to increase interest in Eastern Carver County Schools for diverse students looking for student teaching placements. 

The district has participated in job fairs, including a recent Education Job Fair at the Minneapolis Convention Center.  Direct connections are made both with college/university education departments at these job fairs as well as with prospective candidates.  HR staff follow up with these potential candidates to encourage applications for open positions.

HR staff are also meeting with diverse staff to tap into their personal networks to expand recruitment. When names of potential candidates are forwarded, whether that’s from staff, parents, or other community members, HR follows up with those individuals, as well.

ECCS is also part of Southwest Intermediate COOP – a group of neighboring districts – “Grow Your Own” Program.  The program, through the University of St. Thomas, provides an avenue to licensure for diverse individuals, and the district has two staff in this program. We are also looking to begin a similar “Grow Your Own” program for current high school students in partnership with Normandale and Mankato State University.

The district continues to work hard to provide competitive salaries and benefits to attract and retain candidates.

The district posts positions on a variety of websites including those that target diverse candidates.  We do have teacher and paraprofessional openings currently. All open positions can be found on our website: https://www.applitrack.com/district112/onlineapp/jobpostings/view.asp

What about hiring diverse administrators and staff? See the answer to the previous question.  We acknowledge that there is much work to be done and we are actively working both to increase our applicant pool and number of diverse staff at every level in the district.
Doesn’t our district staffing mirror our state’s demographic makeup?  Is it reasonable to believe you can hire differently from our base population rather than address special needs, language gap, and economic issues impacting learning?  Recruitment and retention of teachers, administrators, and other staff of color will result in positive impacts in every part of our district, and most importantly benefit our students, which is the reason why we’re here. Representation matters, and this is a high priority for our district.
Topic: Curriculum
Question Answer
I see these racial incidents as part of bullying as a whole.  Has the district had good results from their current anti-bullying curriculum? Are there plans to beef up this curriculum adding all areas: racism, LGBTQ, disabilities, etc.? Yes, the district has seen positive results from current bullying policies and practices, although we continue to work to address all incidents to ensure a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for each student.  

Through our positive behavior intervention and supports (PBIS) and social emotional learning, we positively teach prosocial behavior.  This has reduced incidents across buildings. The district will continue to enhance our social emotional learning curriculum to support our equity vision and beliefs.

An important component of this work is ongoing professional learning. During Summer Academy (A learning opportunity for all ECCS teachers) sessions were offered and well attended. Sessions offered included:

  • LGBTQ 101 & Intersecting Identities 
  • Equity Through a Racial Lens
  • Building a FIRE: an introduction to racial equity work
  • Understanding and Overcoming Racial Bias and white Privilege
  • Equity: ADHD, Gender and Poverty
  • Interrupting Racism in Our Learning Communities
What do you plan to change in the curriculum regarding a person’s religion?  There should be NO teaching/pushing the Islamic religion to students who do not believe in it.  Eastern Carver County Schools is a public school district and cannot and does not “push” or advocate for religion of any kind in our schools. 
How will our district celebrate our unique histories? For example, Black History Month, diverse world history vs. European history The Director of Equity and Inclusion along with the Teaching and Learning department and teacher leaders are developing a diversity/cultural observation resource that provides guidance and resources for celebrating all types of diversity.  This includes learning for educators and students, and all buildings will be asked to implement the observances identified in the resource.
What steps will be taken to ensure curriculum is historically accurate so students learn the facts? As a part of our dynamic curriculum review process,instructional practices and resources are being updated and implemented across teachers and schools.  This year, the district will undergo a comprehensive evaluation of the K-12 social studies program.  

This will include: 

  • review of data and results 
  • review of current best practices
  • review of power standards and learning targets
  • alignment between grade levels and across school sites
  • review of current resources and instructional practices.  

This will result in identification of strengths and needs from which curriculum changes will be developed and implemented

Parents and students should be included in curriculum review process. Parents are currently a part of our Teaching and Learning Advisory, and students will be added this year.  This advisory provides important input into curriculum, instruction, and program review and update processes.
After the events of last year, especially the handling of Black History Month, it’s galling that there has been no review of history/social studies curriculum for the 19-20 school year. We review and update curriculum and instructional practices in core content areas on an ongoing basis.  For example, through work completed in the 2018-19 school year professional development and resources have been provided for teachers at the 5th grade level, the first year that US history is taught.  During the 2019-20 school year, the K-12 social studies program will undergo a comprehensive review.
Topic: Communications/Trust/Engagement

 

Question Answer
In the 18-19 school year, when racism occurred within our schools, it did not feel as though the district leaders, in response to such racism, specifically distinguished it as racism, as opposed to more generic bullying. Moving forward, what is the district’s plan to identify and strongly condemn racism when it occurs? The district has implemented a communications protocol that provides guidance over when and to whom communications will be sent after incidents occur in our schools. As part of its communications plan, the district is committed to being as responsive, time-sensitive, and transparent as is feasible given privacy law.
The handling of the incidents at Chaska High School last year created a trust gap with a segment of the community.  What specific steps will be taken at Chaska High School to rebuild trust with the entire community?

During the month of August, CHS staff are holding two information sessions designed especially to engage parts of the community that may not be as connected to the school.  During these information sessions, staff will address not just building equity work, but connecting families to resources that will support success throughout the school year.

Instead of school-wide assemblies, building leadership are taking the work to the classroom level.  Teachers are being trained through Anti-Defamation League (ADL) programming and strategies to respond to racist and bullying incidents in the classroom.  Modeling this training in the classroom will support student learning while also encouraging students to advocate for and help each other. Teachers will be focused on relationship building in the classroom, which will in turn support building stronger community throughout the school.   

During the first few weeks of school, starting with the 9th and 10th grade classes, school leadership will be visiting each classroom to talk about the CHS pride norms developed in collaboration with students last year.  This is an opportunity to emphasize mutual expectations of staff and students around how we engage with each other.  

Additionally, school leadership and staff will be going out into the community during the first few months of school to connect with families where they live to deepen conversations around these issues and build stronger relationships.

Is district leadership willing to acknowledge the specific ways that their responses to racist incidents during the previous year created additional pain for students and their families? We made mistakes in how we communicated last year, and we’re sorry for any pain those mistakes caused students and their families. We have put processes in place to improve when and how we communicate as a district, and at our buildings.
How will the district leaders demonstrate to the community that school leadership teams are held accountable for appropriate and trauma-informed responses to racist incidents?

Equity updates are now a recurring item on the board agenda and a chance to track and report out progress as well as be held accountable in a public setting for that work. Information provided in those updates, as well as additional information about the work being done around equity and inclusion, is housed on the district’s equity webpage. 

As work with the Vision and Framework proceeds, associated action plans, updates, metrics, and outcomes, will also be part of that page so that members of our community can track the work and provide feedback as we move forward together.

A communications protocol is now in place, and the district has also committed to producing an annual equity report that tracks progress and reports outcomes as we establish goals and metrics from which we can be held accountable.

How do we hold parents responsible for the same things we’re asking the district to do? As a district, we can only hold ourselves accountable for this work. This is a great community of committed families, and working together we can improve the learning experience for all our kids.
How are you going to respond to community members and organizations who are against equity because they think it’s just part of the agenda of liberal teachers and administrators.  Our mission as a district is learners achieving their personal best.  That means every student. This is not political. This is about ensuring that all students regardless of their background have the opportunity to have an equitable learning environment. There is no agenda or ideology embedded in our equity work, it is simply foundational to fulfilling that mission to serve all our students and help prepare them for what they do after they leave ECCS.
What types of professional interpreter services are offered to non-English speaking parents?

We are working hard to improve our communications in this area and to consistently provide materials in multiple languages to meet the needs of all our families. 

The district is actively recruiting language services staff, and also use contracted service providers to provide translation.  When we are not able to meet our needs through the use of our own contracted service providers, we have a contract with Betmar Languages. 

District Staff and parents also have access to Language Line services, offered in real-time over the telephone.  Every building has staff trained in the use of the language line to facilitate communicating with parents/families in their first language.  We can also use the Language Line if families are in a meeting with staff and there is no access to an in-person interpreter. 

Topic: District Staff
Question Answer
How should staff address a situation where a supervisor clearly does not understand an equity situation, or responds inappropriately to a situation involving a marginalized individual? If a staff member does not have a direct supervisor they feel comfortable having this conversation with they can and should contact one of the following:

Amy LaDue, Assistant Superintendent:
laduea@district112.org, (952) 556-6114

Dr. Jim O’Connell, Director of Human Resources: oconnellj@district112.org, (952) 556-6251

David Brecht, Student Services Administrator: brechtd@district112.org, (952) 556-6141

How will you foster an environment where staff feels comfortable stopping and reporting racist behavior? It is incumbent on all of us to create an environment where children are protected from any kind of harm. Through ongoing professional development, dialogue and other training, staff will develop skills to understand and recognize that trauma impacts all parties involved with behavior rooted in racial bias. This training is critical in helping staff understand what they are hearing and/or observing, and how to intervene.

Fostering that kind of environment starts at the top, with culture and climate set by administrative leadership. Leaders and their staff need to agree about what kind of space they desire to have for each other and students. Culture and climate are both key. 

School climate refers to the school’s effects on students, including teaching practices; diversity; and the relationships among administrators, teachers, parents, and students. School culture refers to the way teachers and other staff work together and the set of beliefs, values, and assumptions they share. A positive school climate and school culture promote students’ ability to learn

How do we combat legitimate situations where staff/teachers are afraid to discipline students of color for fear of being called racist or ending up in the media?  There has to be balance. Courageous educators have a way of overcoming discomfort to do the right thing in every case.  Our primary focus is the safety and development of the students we serve. 

This is not a question of balance, but first addressing the discipline disparities that exist. Our data clearly indicates that we as a district, and country, do not have a challenge disciplining students of color. Our primary challenge is learning to appropriately interpret behavior some may deem insubordinate and/or disrespectful. 

The subjective categories for discipline is where the imbalance lives. White students consistently observe that students of color are chastised for behavior that both groups exhibit, yet only students are color are disciplined for it. Our first priority is ensuring each student receives clear expectations for behavior, while being engaged by a compelling instructor and facilitator of learning. 

Will video-cams be placed in rooms and certain videos be used to make examples of teachers who are not complying in an equitable way with students? Is this legal? No, they will not.
Topic: Professional Development
Question Answer
Has this district looked into Learning Teams/Training using culturally and linguistically responsive teaching? Have you reached out to Sharrokie Hollie? The district is working with the new director of equity and inclusion to plan both professional development and training around instructional practices. Results from the equity audit will also inform the district’s work in this area, which will include culturally responsive teaching practices.  
Can you please share locations and results of Culturally Responsive training and how those were translated to D112 needs? The University of MN offered the Culturally Responsive School Leadership Academy to districts who participate in their Urban Leadership Academy.  Eastern Carver County Schools sent a team of four to these eight days of training. During July, district and building leadership participated in 2.5 days of professional development through a similar learning experience to increase capacity for culturally-responsive teaching. This is foundational learning to support individual growth and inform our district work moving forward.
Are we as a district considering National Urban Alliance as many metro area districts have done with great success regarding PD and equity-related instructional practices?  As we identify our priorities and determine our action steps we will be aligning our work and professional development to best practices.  We’ll be using recognized organizations and experts in the field.
We know the best way to grow is to do our own equity/racial journey – how will staff be “trained” and supported in their journey for their growth and ultimately student success? The district intentionally focused professional development this summer at the district and building leadership level to make sure that those leaders were equipped to support their staff.  While this focused professional development started with district leadership, that training will expand to staff. This work is ongoing, and training and supports will continually be refined to ensure staff are equipped with the tools they need to support students.
Topic: Equity Framework/Action Plans
Question Answer
Do you have statistics that show districts who have adopted an equity vision that have closed the achievement and discipline gaps?  There are districts who have adopted equity visions and culturally responsive leadership practices who are actively addressing achievement and discipline gaps and are showing promising evidence.
How will educators, school leaders, etc., be held accountable for their failure to uphold the equity vision? All district leaders are held accountable to uphold district beliefs, values, and priorities.  Like in any of our work, if an employee is not meeting expectations it is addressed first through training and associated supports and then through progressive discipline. 
What is the timeline for publishing the action plan and its measurable goals prior to implementation? If there is not one yet, how soon will that timeline be published?  The action plan and measurable goals will be developed throughout the fall of 2019. Implementation of action steps will begin as soon as the plan is finalized. 
What metrics will be used to determine whether the program continues? Ex. If results get worse or stay the same, shall we continue to spend money on this?  We have a responsibility and an obligation to meet the needs of all learners.  To that end, we will continue to work toward safe, welcoming, and inclusive school communities and positive academic, social-emotional, and discipline results for all students. Our mission is all learners achieving their personal best; that work never stops.
Will there be continuous communication regarding timelines for implementation (i.e., curriculum, teacher training, leadership training…) beyond dialogue, but goals for implementation steps? Yes. These will be included as part of our action plan, and communicated via a number of avenues, including the monthly board updates, the equity page, district and school newsletters, and the annual equity report.
What are the milestones and accountability you are using to ensure success of this program?  Milestones will be established within the district’s action plan.  That plan will include goals and measurable outcomes used to hold the district accountable to this work. 
How will you be communicating with the parents and community on the progress? There are monthly equity updates to the board.  Additional communication to parents and the community will be provided via district and school newsletters, the district website, press releases and newspaper columns, and social media. Progress toward goals will also be included in the district dashboard and World’s Best Workforce report available through the Minnesota Department of Education.
Topic: Miscellaneous
 

Question Answer
Please introduce the persons not yet identified designated as responders and what role each plays in District 112 as it relates to the issues of equity and diversity. This question could be asking a couple of different things – who “responders” are to approach with issues around equity and inclusion, or who the staff were who spoke at the community forum.  If this is asking the first, those individuals are:

Amy LaDue, Asst. Superintendent

Dr. Jim O’Connell, Director of Human Resources

David Brecht, Student Services Administrator

If the question is asking who spoke on the night of community forum, it was members of the Superintendent’s Cabinet. Those individuals are:

Clint Christopher, Superintendent

Amy LaDue, Asst. Superintendent

Dr. Keith Brooks, Director of Equity and Inclusion

Celi Haga, Director of Communications and Community Relations

Jackie Johnston, Director of Community Education

Dr. Jim O’Connell, Director of Human Resources

Dr. Laura Pingry-Kile, Director of Specialized Services

Our largest proficiency gap and graduation rate is within a white group in our district.  IAA has a 0% proficiency and 74% white graduation rate. How does teaching (leaving?) our staff at this school 100% white to connect with students culturally.  

The purpose and design of the IAA is to create a learning environment to meet the needs of students that have not experienced success in the large high school setting.  Being an arts school, students learn and demonstrate their learning through the arts – culinary, visual, graphic, holtorculture, etc. This gives students the opportunity to make relevant and real-life connections to learning, which is engaging and motivating for them. Staff at the IAA are engaged in professional learning around effective practices, creating equitable and inclusive school communities, addressing social and emotional needs, and this year will also be a part of a pilot program to support learners who have experienced trauma.

How can community members support equity efforts of ECCS? Continue to be part of the conversation. Talk with your children, and your neighbors, about why you feel this is important. 
Why are not all schools in the district represented on the Equity Advisory Committee?

Victoria Elementary isn’t represented and has had racial incidents.

Over 120 applications were received for the Equity Advisory Committee, and a variety of factors were considered as the committee was selected. We recognize that not all buildings are represented, and as committee membership changes over time we will continue to look at building representation as a component of the mix of members.
You talked about the opportunity gap and that it will be prioritized to address.  What about the corrective action/disciplinary gap? There are estimates that kids of color are disciplined at 16x higher rate at CHS than white kids for similar offenses.  What will be done to address this inequity? Part of the equity audit includes collecting and reviewing attendance, behavior referral, and behavior resolution data to identify in more detail  if disproportionalities exist and what they are. This will allow us to more specifically address policy and practice issues in areas of concern as we move forward in our equity work
Following up on specific incidents across the district:

1) have principal participants been identified?

2) how were they punished?

3) can they be expelled/removed from the district?

Investigations occurred after every one of these incidents, but the results of those investigations and any discipline are subject to privacy laws so we are unable to share outcomes.  The district took these incidents seriously and consequences were significant. The district’s discipline policy (#506) can be found here. 
You say kids aren’t achieving equally – why blame the school? Why must schools fix problems resulting from home environments? This isn’t about blaming schools or staff.  Our mission as a district is learners achieving their personal best.  We must address gaps where they exist – it’s our responsibility as educators, and beyond that, it’s mandated by the state.  All of our children deserve the best chance to succeed and that’s why this work is so important. 
The district needs to remember that the end goal isn’t just about producing high school graduates, you need to focus on producing respectful, responsible, inclusive members of society.

We can’t make global progress just by learning our multiplication tables. It takes honesty, conviction, and kindness to be an accepting community. – current Chanhassen student. 

We agree that our focus needs to be supporting deep academic learning for all students, as well as developing critical life and social-emotional skills beyond academics.  The district has been engaging in the process of updating this throughout the 2018-19 school year. We are calling it a graduate profile, and the goal is to clearly identify the life skills our community believes are important, and work to ensure students have opportunities to develop these during their education experience. Several parent, student and staff groups have participated in the discussion.  We are in the final stages of developing the updated graduate profile with more communication to come during the 2019-20 school year.
I’m sick of hearing “we’re going to do better.”  Tell us specifically what you’re going to do to make it better. We are also impatient with the pace of progress, and have a sense of urgency. Over the last several years, there have been numerous diversity efforts. What’s different now is that we are creating an aligned strategic effort that touches all parts – and all the staff – of our district. Although the incidents have been tough, they have created conditions for many of our staff to take a look at this work in a focused way we haven’t collectively been able to in the past. We are investing in the necessary professional development, time, and space to address issues of culture and race that we weren’t prepared to in the past.