School Board Questionnaire
The WCIA survey found that two-thirds of residents acknowledge that incidents of racism, harassment and discrimination have occurred in the past, only one-third think they have been dealt with appropriately. If elected to the WCS Board what would you do to prevent racism, harassment and discrimination in our schools and to address them appropriately when reported to administration?
I think this is discouraging but maybe not surprising. While I don’t think there is a quick answer, I do feel hopeful that there are things we can do in Wyoming City Schools to tackle this issue. I am heartened by the efforts I have seen on several fronts as a board member. Taking steps to better know the student experience and working to build relationships between adults and students in our buildings can be preventative as well as create a safe space for kids in a difficult situation. As well, creating a culture where it is ok to discuss issues that affect kids such as bullying, racism, sexism, etc.. can take away some of the silent acceptance of certain behaviors as well as further empathy for another’s experience. I don’t think it is uncommon to have had the opportunity to be an upstander but to have struggled to find the right way to address an incident. Lena Patton, our new part-time equity and inclusion coordinator, has taken what tools we can offer on this front to a new level. I am excited to see how we can build bridges of understanding and elevate our discourse around difficult topics with her expertise. I am also excited about the Board’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) study topic this year on Bullying. Again, everything comes back to creating a climate where kids learn best. When it comes to student discipline, I support our staff in taking early action in stopping the behavior, but discipline centered on restorative measures that encourage positive growth.
Continue to build a culture where everyone feels understood, that they belong, are included and have a voice. Racism, harassment, discrimination, prejudice etc. has no place at Wyoming or anywhere else. In the environment I described, those evil, malicious acts and beliefs can’t grow and thrive. Even if there are racist, harassing, discriminatory people, those voices will be eclipsed by a community of support and belonging. We should take the necessary the steps to help educate and empower our school population and stakeholders on how to build this culture to understand and identify when such actions go against this culture of inclusion and belonging. When violations do occur, we need to swiftly act and investigate to understand the situation and hold people accountable using the proper processes, chain of command and school policy as our guides.
As a school board member I would be committed to providing all students with a safe and supportive school environment. There are proactive, research-based actions that districts can take to address racism, harassment, and discrimination. It starts with the fostering of an organizational culture that strives to be culturally proficient. This means investing in and supporting faculty and staff with ongoing professional development opportunities so they have the confidence, awareness, and knowledge to intervene in an appropriate manner. We must also continue our efforts to build community among our students through a curriculum (broadly defined) that includes discussions on why tolerance and respect are critical in a free society.
If I was re-elected to the role of a Board of Education member, I would continue to encourage the goals we have in the district to develop belonging and inclusion to all students and staff. The main goal areas that encompass these would fall in Teaching and Learning, Climate and Culture and Communication. Having administrators properly address incidents surrounding harassment, racism and/or discrimination in school is key to training and ongoing dialogue. The way I can personally assist in this area is to continually help people make connections with one another. As a representative of the community, my role as a Board Member is to connect individuals outside of school to the proper channel to help solve problems. Since the position oversees the Superintendent, I would continue to ask clarifying questions regarding the day to day and how issues are being resolved or worked through to prevent, as best possible, future incidents.