Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden issued the following statement about the district's efforts to push back against racism at the outset of the Feb. 25 Board of Education meeting:
I would like to start by thanking everyone in the District and the Saline community for your tremendous support regarding racism in our school and community. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming. And when I say overwhelming, I mean in a very positive way. So many individuals and groups committing to help support the school district and community to be more inclusive and supportive of ALL students & families within Saline.
I think it is very important that I address many of the steps that have been in place within the school district over the course of the last few years. Some of the key action steps……...
Steps that our schools and District are already working on
- Community Meetings - Bystander vs. Upstander (Interruptor)
- Diverse books sets in Media Center and Classrooms so students understand the “Windows and Mirrors” concept
- Morning Announcements/Displays/Authors/History highlighted throughout Black History Month
- The All Means All Wall and the Student-Led and developed monthly themes including the “Foods Around the World” , LGBTQ Awareness, Black History Month and upcoming themes of Social-Emotional Support and Wellness.
- The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion student group exchange with Saline High School students and the SHS Race and Ethnicity class.
Alternative High School
- BASE Learning sessions focused on history of Racial slurs
- Martin Luther King production January 22 and invited SHS & SMS students
- Race and Ethnicity class
- Dr. Richard Lapchick Social Justice & Diversity Presentation to students & community
- New Martin Luther King Art Wall in High School Commons
- Expanded social thinking and DEI information to all staff, non-certified staff included, to enhance student-staff interactions and student-student interactions
- Provided specific professional learning led by Dr. Jay Marks
- Facilitated - book study with all administrators regarding Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices
- Added DEI statement in student handbook
- Organized Professional Development for all teaching staff on Social Justice on February 14th
- Coordinated District-Wide Social Justice Leaders Committee
- Support Social Justice Core Class Training and Advanced Class Training for over 40 teachers and administrators
- Developed and coordinated the District Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee
- Work centered around the EJATT (Education Justice Assessment & Transformation Tool)
- Committee focused on Teaching & Learning, Behavior & Discipline, and Policies & Procedures within the Saline Area Schools
But, it is very clear that we need to do more and we will do more
Steps that our schools and District need to do next:
- Establish Affinity groups and healing circles for students of color
- Conduct additional student conversations regarding the topic of racism
- Continue to meet with SPAR Parent group to provide improved supports for our students of color
- Continued Community Listening sessions - 5 scheduled over the course of the next two weeks, with re-format these so they allow for greater community voice
- Work directly with the city of Saline to better support the education of our community on the topic of racism
- Continue to meet with Office of Civil Rights, the Mexican Consulate, and the Department of Justice to expand our network of resources
- Continue our close work with the WISD Equity and Social Justice Department to expand training efforts, just discipline policies and behavioral expectations
- Expand WISD Social Justice training with Dr. Shayla Griffin to establish more social justice leaders in the District
- Expand training efforts for bus drivers, paraeducators, food service staff and other support staff
- Establish a hate speech process / policy that allows for discipline, education and restorative practices
In closing, I am grateful to be the Superintendent in a District where “all hands on deck” means just that……..that we are all in as a community to push back against racism and its harmful impact on our students and community members.