Jefferson County Public Schools is asking Superintendent Marty Pollio to create a districtwide plan and advisory council to fix racial inequities.
After months of council meetings to develop the plan, board members will be given a draft proposal for a first reading at Tuesday night’s board meeting. The plan aims to help the district eliminate learning and climate barriers for students of color, according to the draft.
“The Board believes that as a diverse urban school district whose student population has a majority of Students of Color, the District must take a systemic approach to ensure that Students of Color have equitable learning opportunities, experiences, and outcomes,” it says.
A systemic racial equity plan could help JCPS, a diverse urban district, close achievement gaps between white students and students of color, the draft says. The achievement gap between white and black students has drawn attention recently, with the fear that the gap is worsening.
The proposal is designed to address five directives:
- diversity in curriculum instruction and assessment
- school culture and climate
- program access
- staff and class diversity
- commitment from central office.
According to the draft, Pollio and an 11-person advisory council will write a plan of action to help develop and monitor the rollout. The draft suggests that the data-driven plan has strategies for six goals, along with metrics for accountability.
These include raising the achievement of all students, with a focus on minimizing achievement gaps. The proposal asks for this strategy to be “intersectional” — to make sure efforts are balanced across genders, socioeconomic status and special education status.
It seeks to look for ways to eliminate or change district and school policies that create a racial imbalance. Examples of procedures given in the draft include disciplinary practices, access to enhanced learning and identification for special education.
And it wants to develop strategies to foster high expectations for teaching and learning for all staff and students.
Other goals focus on culture and climate, which JCPS has had some recent issues with. For the past nine JCPS board meetings, students, parents and community members have spoken out against SROs in district schools, partially because of potential racial discrimination. DuPont Manual High School principal Gerald “Jerry” Mayes has been under investigation since October for racially insensitive comments and bullying behavior.
According to the draft, Pollio’s plan should suggest ways to boost staff diversity to match student demographics, improve school climates, and have training for teachers and school-based personnel to maintain a respectful environment.
The 11-person racial equity advisory council will include a teacher, administrator and nonadministrative employee, along with two parents, students and community members. There isn’t a specific diversity quota, but the draft says it should match student demographics.
According to the meeting agenda, Pollio will recommend that the board receive and read the draft. No vote is planned. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Youth Performing Arts School, 1517 S 2nd St.
Read the full proposal below.