In a split vote, the Douglas County School Board directed the superintendent to compile recommendations to change the equity policy and present them in March.
During the Sept. 27 meeting, the board voted 5-2 to officially waive a Sept. 1 deadline for Superintendent Erin Kane to recommend changes to the equity policy as laid out in a January resolution, so that Kane can gather input from parents, students and teachers throughout this year.
Board members Susan Meek and David Ray voted against the waiver, having voiced concerns about unclear language in the original resolution.
Board members have disagreed on how to move forward with the resolution, which was passed by members Becky Myers, Mike Peterson, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar earlier this year. In recent discussions, members Elizabeth Hanson, Meek and Ray have advocated for a monitoring report on the policy, while the other members support an implementation plan with potential changes based on community feedback.
As part of the Sept. 27 discussion, Ray proposed an amendment to the original resolution, which would have waived the deadline and directed the superintendent to conduct a monitoring report on the policy to examine implementation.
The amendment failed 4-3, with Myers, Peterson, Williams and Winegar dissenting, but sparked further discussion on how the district should approach the equity policy.
Ray said the idea behind the amendment was to focus on the impact of the policy and not the wording.
Hanson and Meek supported the amendment, with Meek saying she felt it addressed concerns about clarity while also respecting the intent of the resolution.
“I ask my colleagues, if you truly believe students are being harmed through this policy, why would you refuse to take real action?” she said. “Why would you refuse to ask for a monitoring report that would demonstrate in an accountable way whether there is a true need to change language?”
In his comments, Peterson said he supported the original resolution without the amendment because the themes covered in the equity policy overlap with the district’s end goals, which are already monitored.
“I think we can include elements of this policy throughout our monitoring reports that support other goals,” he said.
Myers, Williams and Winegar also supported the original resolution. Winegar, who introduced the resolution in January, said she supported moving forward with Kane’s community engagement plan, presented on Sept. 13.
“When this resolution was drafted, we had a different superintendent that I felt wasn’t taking action and that’s a big reason why I was a proponent of it,” Winegar said. “Since then, a lot has happened and changed, and that’s why I’m OK with this date being waived. The superintendent has presented a plan on her interpretation of this resolution and I think it’s a great plan so I don’t agree with changing the current resolution.”
Myers said she believes the equity policy has similarites to critical race theory, adding she’d like to begin conversations.
“I’m comfortable with Superintendent Kane and us reaching out now more to the community, having some forums or one-on-one meetings with our community, but I would like to see a more diverse involvement from the community,” Myers said.
With the deadline waived, Kane is planning to start engaging the community on four central questions around implementation of the equity policy, including what people want to see happen, what fears they have, what questions they have and how to measure success of the policy.
Kane’s plan includes conversations with the district’s equity advisory council, staff, students and parents, as well as a presentation of her finding at the March 31 meeting.
The equity policy was enacted in 2019 and remains in effect as it was approved.
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