Marysville school officials hope to improve equity at the district after presenting the final draft of their equity action plan on June 21.
District staff have been working for several months on drafting the actions local schools should take to make sure that students from marginalized groups have equal access throughout the district.
“This plan is so every student has access to the resources and educational resources they need at the right moment in their education, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, language, ability, family background or family income,” said Eneille Nelson, executive director of equity and family engagement at the district.
The school district faced criticism in 2021 after Black high school students faced multiple instances of racist harassment.
“This is a plan to help make things better,” said Erica Tate, one of the members of the Equity and Family Engagement team and a counselor at Cascade Elementary School.
“Marysville has had a couple of hard years and a lot of the things in this action plan will help repair what happened. It was a mess but we listened and heard and shared,” she said.
Students, staff and community members were involved in the process to help create the plan.
“We were looking for diversity, people who represent our students as a whole,” said Nelson.
“Making sure that we didn’t only have teachers but para-educators and other staff members,” she added.
A final draft of the plan was presented on June 21 for the board's consideration.
“Many of these things we’re already working on and are already in motion,” said Travis Hammond, a member of the Equity and Engagement team.
According to the plan, district staff should create a platform for reporting harassment or discrimination.
“With reporting process and procedures, this one was hugely important for students,” said Nolan Ward, one of the members of the Equity and Engagement team. “This is an area that they felt very strongly that we need to work on improving."
Under the plan there should also be student groups and spaces focusing on diversity.
“Eneille [Nelson] and I were able to have a meeting with the Spanish speaking students and families at MP and this came up,” said Hammond. “They said ‘hey, our kids at the Elementary school don’t have a Spanish club,’ and the idea of having those things is so those children can get together with their peers and families can meet each other that are going through similar things."
A welcoming environment is important for basic student attendance.
“I heard so many stories over the course of this … listening to parents in their driveways trying to get their kids to school and all of the reason why that is,” said Tate, who added that due to ethnicity, having a non-traditional family or for other reasons, many students avoid school when they can.
“If we’re not putting butts in seats, than the whole academic side is pointless,” said School Board member Connor Krebbs.
The plan also calls for hiring and recruitment efforts to focus on reflecting the diversity of the community.
Training for current teachers and staff is also needed included in the plan.
“Our goal is to hire and retain employees who support, implement and exhibit continual growth in their understanding of educational equity,” said Ward.
A platform for staff to report harassment or discrimination has started this year.
Each school building in the district will also have teams meant to lead on how to make the school more inclusive.
“One of our biggest pushes next year is the BELTs [building equity leadership teams],” said Hammond. “We really want to get in coordination with them.".
The final draft of the plan was discussed at the meeting and a vote for final approval and discussion is planned for a future meeting.
School Board president Paul Galovin said he was happy to see the district’s plan come together.
“I love the work that is going on and it has been a huge push,” he said.
“To have this come to fruition is a dream come true, although we have a long ways to go.”
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