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Justice!

“The arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice.”–Dr. King

Hi! Hello! It has been a long time since I have come on this little blog. Recently, the Department of Justice released their settlement with Davis School District and I thought I would share a little bit about our experience working with them. First, here is a link to the settlement and I have to say, I am so excited about the future for Davis School District.

Allison and I started meeting with Davis School District in 2018. We were inquiring about Black History Month and other cultural celebrations in the district. We met with them periodically, often leaving them with suggestions to make kids of color feel safer in the district. So many parents of kids of color would tell us about the terrible things happening to their children. We started collecting those stories. We created a “racial incident form” (see more info below.) We informed parents we were going to be sharing them with Davis School District and some parents chose to be anonymous. People would email us and we would save them. Pages and pages of lived experiences from children of color. You can read general stories in the settlement, linked above.

In June of 2019 we had a meeting with Mr. Newey and a few other VIP’s in the district. We provided them with all of the stories we collected along with a list of 9 action items we were asking them to do. (see below)

In the summer of 2019, the Department of Justice reached out to our friend whose son experienced terrible racism. They decided to pursue an official investigation of Davis School District. Our friend gave them our contact information and we started communicating with them. We contacted the parents who shared their stories and asked for permission to share with the Department of Justice. I am so proud of the students and parents who were brave enough to share their voices. Because of them and so many others, the Department of Justice had enough proof to create a settlement with a plan to make Davis School District a safer place for students of color. Click on this link to read the action steps the dept. of Justice is asking DSD to do along with dates.

What can you do to make change in your district?

  1. Collect stories! Make sure you ask for permission from students and parents to share their stories with your school district. Make sure to use a form of some sort. Here is the form we used.

Racial Incident Form

1. Date Time and place of incident (include school name and location in school, ex lunch room, west playground etc.)

2. Describe Incident (who was involved, what was said or done to whom and what was the reaction by the victim?).

3. How did this make the victimized child feel?

4. What if any damage did this cause?

5. Was the incident reported to anyone at school? Yes or No

6. If Yes, who precisely was it reported to? (Name(s) of person(s) and title(s))

7. If Yes, What if any action was taken? Is there a precise procedure in place at the school to handle Racist incidents? If so, do you know it and was it followed?

8. Do you and your student consider that the incident was adequately handled? If not, what more would you like to see done?

9. Any additional comments.

2. Get a feel for your school community. Ask questions. What types of books do they read? How do they celebrate holidays? Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage month is coming up! Send an email to your child’s teachers to ask them questions about how they are planning on celebrating. Here is a blog post I wrote a few years ago about Thanksgiving. I am planning on writing another post soon about Thanksgiving. Ask teachers if they would be willing to learn about more equitable ways to teach holidays. Send them information. Work with your school principal to see if they can help as well. Encourage your classroom and school to have more books featuring kids of color.

3. Join Community Council and or PTA. Community Council is so awesome because you get to have a “say” in how money is spent for your school. Your voice is heard on issues that matter.

4. Meet with your district Equity Department. Find out what they are already doing and see how you can add to it.

5. Meet with your School Board Members. Share things that are important to you. Provide them with action items you would like to see in the district. Here are 9 items that we thought were important. We used this article to help guide our ideas. We also printed an article and agenda for each person. We also provided them with a list of vocabulary words, books, trainers, etc. If you would like to see the full document, please reach out to me and I will be happy to share with you!

  1. Restructure the Equity Department to make it more effective. Hire outside trainer or staff for racial equity training and coaching for the director in order to integrate Title 1 funding with equity departments goals in order to leverage more resources.
  2. Create a Diversity Task Force composed of stake holders, school board members, teachers and parents.
  3. Mandatory Black History Month Celebrated in all schools. Follow National theme for lesson plan and activity ideas. Host a district wide celebration at a district school.
  4. Search out curriculum that showcases people of color and accurately teaches the history of people of color in America.
  5. Mandatory and on-going Racial Bias Training by someone who is qualified, having worked with multiple school systems, and can demonstrate an evidence and impactful training.  (see appendix for a list of possible people) As part of the Racial Bias Training, we are proposing educators to watch the documentary “13th” , directed by Ava DuVernay. Included in this element is a teacher book club in which teachers read a chapter of a book and discuss at faculty meetings. See possible books on reference page.
  6. Identify and evidence-based endorsement in equity and cultural competency for teachers to complete. Incentivize teachers similar to other endorsements such as the ESL endorsement.
  7. Zero Tolerance Racial Incident Policy.
  8. Incident form Procedure created, implemented and directed by Equity Director (see bullet point #1)
  9. We expect Davis School Districts to hire 15 people of color for leadership positions, including administrators and educators for the 20-21 school year.
  10. Update student required reading list to include books written by and featuring people of color as the protagonist. (see student book list in appendix)  

I think that sums it up. Please reach out if you have any questions! I would be happy to answer any questions!

Emily

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