In June, Stillwater Area School District black students and alumni authored a letter to the school board addressing past racism in the district and advocated for new policies and programs that support diverse students currently attending school.
In response to the letter, district administration held a July 29 discussion with students, alumni students and district staff to build trust with stakeholders and develop short- and long-term strategies.
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Cherry shared what actions the district is taking this school year to address the issues that students of color identified.
“What we mean by this is, what are the actions we are taking in our district to meet the equity, diversity and inclusion needs in our district,” Cherry said. “Three specific action items have taken place.”
Cherry called the July 29 meeting a opportunity to hear voices from diverse points of view and to started developing trust with those stakeholders.
“We had a very purposeful, engaged process to build trust with our stakeholders,” she said.
An action item identified in the June letter from students was a committee that would support equity and inclusion in the district.
Cherry told the board they are in the process of starting that committee later this year.
“We are creating an Equity Think Tank to support an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee that we are forming this year,” Cherry said.
The July 29 meeting showed the leadership by alumni students, the assistant superintendent said.
“It was all in collaboration with our student alumni leaders that really helped host and plan this meeting,” Cherry said. “It was really great to hear stakeholder voices and to move forward on this idea on an equity, diversity and inclusion committee.”
At the time of the Aug. 6 meetings, interviews were just completed
to hire a new staff position; a district cultural liaison.
Cherry also told the board that they were seeking a consultant to guide equity work and implement the plan.
The district used two consultants to guide the conversation during the July 29 meeting and pursuing future consultant work.
“In a short period of time, we have been able to make some concrete actions to move forward to ensuring we have long standing equity practices in our district,” Cherry said.
Board member Jennifer Pelletier said she felt the work being done by the district staff was positive.
“I was in that meeting last week and I got a sense that the students felt heard,” Pelletier said.