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District inclusion plan continues


Special to The Press

Parkland staff, students and community representatives have been working together on the Equity and Inclusion Plan launched in September 2020.

Director of Community Relations and Development Nicole McGalla explained that equity means giving all students every opportunity to succeed.

The endeavor includes looking at various types of bias such as white, male and gender privilege, and systemic racism.

The program then proposes actions to promote equity, trust, empathy, responsibility and mutual respect.

The concept for the plan is that equity involves every aspect of the educational system from curriculum to professional development to community engagement.

The program directs school leaders to approach every decision, practice and policy with an equity outlook.

McGalla reports district staff were trained this fall on “Restorative Practices” which strengthen connections through conversations which focus on listening and building interpersonal relationships.

On the matter of student engagement, McGalla said positive behavior reinforcements are preferred rather than punitive discipline.

She said group and personal conversations are conducted to introduce topics, share personal experiences, and address conflict and tension.

“When held regularly, conversation promotes equity, trust and empathy,” McGalla said.

She noted a team of administrators is looking for ways to attract a diverse candidate pool for open positions in the district.

The group is discussing why it is important to employ diverse individuals and to attract them to the field of education.

In the realm of curriculum, a committee has been established to evaluate resources and textbooks to ensure inclusion of multicultural perspectives.

McGalla said Assistant High School Principal Crystal George and Special Education Coordinator for grades nine to 12, Valerie Gulycz, have been leading a discussion of the book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” written by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

“They continue the conversation about race and equity twice a month and discuss pages and chapters from the book,” McGalla said.

Representatives from the district have been meeting with consultant Ken Shelton who advises the group via Zoom from California

“Ken Shelton is leading a courageous conversation that discusses race, privilege, bias and equity,” McGalla said.

“We’re doing things. We’re making progress.”