Decatur School Board discusses report about racial discrimination
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Attention at Tuesday night’s City Schools of Decatur School Board meeting fell heavily on a recent racial inequality report as the board continued its discussion of how to tackle achievement and discipline gaps.
The report, which was completed by the firm Thomas P. Miller and Associates, examined racial inequity in the school system and aimed to provide strategies to eliminate the gaps.
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“We wanted an outside group to come in and do a comprehensive review to identify the roots of disproportionality,” Lillie Huddleston, CSD’s equity director, said.
In general, the report found that black students were more likely to have a disproportionate number of unexcused absences, tardies and behavioral incidents. Additionally, black students were more likely to receive free or reduced lunches and participate in early intervention programs.
On the other hand, black students were less likely to participate in gifted programs or extracurriculars (although the extracurricular information only included varsity sports, junior varsity sports, and National Honors Society).
The report provided “actionable considerations” as steps to take in the future. These included providing regular equity-focused training opportunities, adjusting resource allocation, reviewing practices and policies and expanding teacher hiring practices to ensure diversity.
While board member Tasha White was pleased with the work done so far, she wants to see more.
“It needs more meat,” she said. “I’m proud of the path we’re on, and this is good, but I think we can do bigger, and I don’t want us to be afraid.”
Board member Garrett Goebel agreed, adding that “if we don’t do something that makes a difference, we are supporting systemic racism.”
The focus on disproportionality continued with a report on the Code of Conduct from Executive Director of Student SupportBruce Roaden. Roaden discussed how the Code of Conduct can impact disproportionality and discussed restorative measures, some of which have already been in place, to improve school climates.
The board meeting also highlighted some of Oakhurst Elementary School’s projects from the school year, which aimed to encourage students from all grade levels to “leave every day smarter and kinder than they were the day before.” The projects included planting seeds and creating an inclusive playground.
Additionally, school board members discussed Clairemont Elementary School’s reading initiative, which will replace up to 90 minutes of Spanish instruction for reading instruction. According to Clairemont’s presentation, 25 percent of third-grade students were at Level 1 on this year’s Georgia Milestones Assessment.
The next board meeting will take place on July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at CSD’s Central Office at Beacon, 125 Electric Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030.
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