DeWayne Street, Leander ISD's chief of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, began working with the district in December.

He sat down with Community Impact Newspaper to discuss his role; the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, in a school district; and the initiatives he is working on. The following responses have been edited for length and clarity.

What roles did you have prior to becoming Leander ISD’s chief of diversity, equity and inclusion?

I was a classroom teacher for 17 years in a town called Beloit, Wisconsin. I taught high school for 10 years and then I volunteered to teach eighth grade for the remaining seven [years] of my time in a classroom. I had the privilege of teaching African American history, U.S. history, government and American minorities, which was what it was called back then. All of those courses and that experience led me to where I am right now.

In November 2020, I was named the first chief equity officer for Round Rock, and that led me to this position.

What brought you to Leander ISD?

I felt I had made my contribution in Round Rock. We had moved the district to a more inclusive posture around issues of equity and DEI.

Then, Leander posted their position and I was curious, but I think it came down to the interview process for me. Having a conversation with the current chief of staff here, the superintendent and realizing that this district was ready for the contribution that I wanted to make.

What prompted the establishment of the district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office?

As a national system, I believe in K-12, we have been behind the eight ball with respect to posting these positions. I mean, these positions have been in the corporate sector for over 40 years.

I think that we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the social factors such as 2020, and the protests and George Floyd. I think that had something to do with it, but I also think there was a genuine need on the part of the people leading the district and on a part of some people in the community. They wanted something that could make it more responsive to the needs of every student every day, and I think that was the major impetus behind establishing the office.

What is the mission and purpose of Leander ISD’s DEI office?

It comes down to increasing access and opportunity for every student every day. The more that we can do that, the more we can put students in a position to do that for themselves throughout life, because to me the ultimate end of all this work is to transfer the ownership to the student. We also want to challenge every student, no matter where they are on the performance envelope.

As the DEI chief, what does a workday consist of for you?Like most chiefs, we have meetings that we have to attend, but for me, a lot of it has to do with engaging people. I’ve been serving as an internal consultant for many of my peers to help frame issues and to help navigate challenges so that every student and every staff member feels valued and respected. I do a lot of training in the district. I meet with parents; I meet with staff; so there’s really not a typical day; but it’s always engaging; it’s always very rewarding.

In the months since you were named DEI chief, what initiatives have you been able to accomplish?

Immediately, we wanted to focus on professionally developing our leadership, because everything has to be driven by the leaders. So, for the last six months, I’ve started with cabinet, which is our highest level of executive leadership. I’ve been delivering workshops, based on the tenets of adult education, making sure that we show people the historic patterns of struggle, so that they can identify them. Also creating space for people to acknowledge where they may have blind spots in the practice, because we all have that. After that, we’ll start engaging staff this fall.

What is your approach to make sure LISD provides an inclusive environment for students and staff?

It’s a two-pronged approach. I think the first is you professionally develop staff. Then secondly, you collect data to find out if you have any gaps, and if you do, you come up with a mitigation strategy. What are we going to do to close the gaps without judgment? Our office is evidence-based.

What do you hope to accomplish through the DEI department this coming school year?

This office, to me, should be like a referee in a championship game. No one should remember the game because of the referee. But if the referee doesn’t do his or her job, the game can’t go on. I want people to see the office that way.

The things that I want to see happen this fall—working with our superintendent, our chief of staff and the other chiefs—is for us to start looking at our data in ways that are more reflective. Working to close gaps, based on a deeper understanding of cultural competency.

How will the work that comes from the DEI office help students, staff and the community?

The changes that I seek [are] a more inclusive environment [and] a better environment in terms of student outcomes. We have great student outcomes, but in the spirit of continuous improvement, we want to make sure that we don’t have any students who fall through the gaps. We know that the more inclusive the environment, the higher levels of student engagement. And, when student engagement is high, student outcomes are enhanced.

Dedicated to diversity


The LISD Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is committed to working with both internal and external stakeholders to provide equitable educational access and opportunity for every student, every day.


  • Diversity: Cultivating a culture in which diversity of thought is valued and respected will lead to greater organization synergies and unity of effort on issues of DEI

  • Inclusion: To have the entire picture, all voices must be included

  • Equity: Freedom from bias or favoritism

Making progress

DeWayne Street has outlined the following goals for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Office for the upcoming school year. Engage aspiring leaders in a three hour workshop titled “The Power of Perception” Ask teachers to take the Cultural Competency Inventory three times this year Track and analyze district data Work to close gaps, based on a deeper understanding of cultural competency