Douglas County school board talks implementation of equity policy

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Douglas County school board members indicated they will direct Superintendent Erin Kane to create an implementation plan and monitoring report for the district’s equity policy this year. 

Kane presented her plan to engage the community for feedback on the equity policy to the board at a Sept. 13 workshop. She outlined three main questions around the implementation of the policy and suggested a deadline of March 31 to present that feedback to the board.

“Given our community and how actively engaged our community is on this work, I would want to specify based on feedback what the implementation will look like and will not look like and present that to you at the March meeting,” Kane said.

The proposed questions ask what people want to see happen, what fears they have and what questions they have. The plan lists the district’s equity advisory council, staff, students and parents as some of the main groups to be involved.

Board members split on whether to have Kane focus on gathering comments about potential changes to the policy, but agreed they wanted more information on the implementation and impacts of the policy. 

Members Mike Peterson and Christy Williams said they liked the idea of hearing thoughts on where the policy could be clarified or changed. 

“Putting together an implementation plan is what I’d like to see first and foremost,” Peterson said. “What does it look like to the superintendent based on the feedback from all of the groups.” 

Peterson went on to say the board would still need to deliberate whether to change the policy and what changes to make.

“I personally still believe the policy is overly broad and vague and I believe our charter as a board is to not have overly broad and vague policies,” he said. “I would like more specificity. That’s not to say blow it up.”

While not opposed to gathering feedback, board member Elizabeth Hanson cautioned her collegues not to duplicate work that was already done during the creation of the policy due to the risk of losing engagement.

“I think we could run into some problems with having a robust community willing to participate in a process that we really need them to be a part of,” Hanson said.

Members David Ray and Susan Meek advocated for Kane’s focus to be a monitoring report on the policy to examine how it’s working.

“I would like to know if there are violations and I’d like to know what’s happening with that policy. That kind of feedback would allow us to take actions and make needed changes,” Meek said.

Peterson agreed that he would also like to see suggestions for how to measure the success of the policy and other metrics.

The board did not take action on the discussion, but plans to vote on next steps at the Sept. 27 meeting. 

Discussions about the district’s equity policy ramped up earlier this year when the board approved a resolution asking the superintendent to recommend changes to the policy by Sept. 1. The board waived that deadline in August. 

The equity policy was enacted in 2019 and remains in effect as it was approved.

dcsd, douglas county school district, equity policy

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