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Durango School District plans to address equity by updating policies

Revisions would place onus on superintendent to better serve culturally diverse students
The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education discussed placing a greater emphasis on issues of equity in the policies it uses to review the superintendent’s job performance. (Durango Herald file)

The Durango School District 9-R Board of Education on Tuesday discussed putting more emphasis on issues of equity to better serve culturally diverse students by formally enshrining the importance of the issue in policy and by updating the curriculum.

The board is expected to vote on changes to several of its Operational Expectations, called OEs, at its June 22 meeting. The OEs are broad policies used to evaluate the superintendent’s job performance.

The policy changes would emphasize the expectation of the board that the superintendent prioritize providing equitable learning environments and ensuring the district’s culture provides equitable outcomes for all students, including culturally diverse students.

For example, Durango School District’s OE-1, its Global Operation Expectation, requires the superintendent to take “reasonable measures” to prevent unlawful, unsafe, disrespectful or imprudent activities, decisions or practices within the district. The change to OE-1 would add the word “inequitable” to the policy.

Dylan Connell, 9-R’s director of instruction and professional development, said to enhance equity within the district, resources such as library collections and textbooks should be examined to ensure they have material that presents a broad spectrum of diverse resources.

Acting Superintendent Laura Galido said 9-R also will likely need to go beyond analyzing whether its library collections, textbooks and other resources are equitable and culturally diverse.

A review of curriculum with an eye on ensuring equity and a broad representation of cultural diversity will also be required, she said.

“We have a choice of poems to present to children. If we only present poems by white females, we have done a disservice to our students,” she said.

Besides updating its OE-1 Global Operation Expectation policy, the board is looking at updating several other OEs. The new policies would require the superintendent to:

  • Actively recruit employees who reflect the diversity of the students.
  • Maintain a climate characterized by support and encouragement for the physical, mental and emotional health of all students.
  • Identify and address inequities in discipline practices.
  • Assure instructional programs accommodate the different needs and abilities of individual students.
  • Effectively assess each student’s academic performance, indentifying and appropriately addressing significant inequities and gaps in achievement outcomes.
  • Assure that the instructional program includes opportunities for students to develop talents and skills in their specialized areas of interest.

In addition, the new policies would ban the superintendent from permitting unruly behaviors on school property and school-sponsored events by students or adults that disrupt learning or that are disrespectful or dangerous, including any form of bullying.

parmijo@durangoherald.com

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