During the district's April 19 meeting, Tracey Benson of Tracey Benson Consulting addressed the board to provide an initial update on an investigation centered on racial equity.
Benson said his firm will provide the district with six recommendations as part of a report that will soon be made available to the SMCISD board.
Included in those recommendations are a need for clarified data on dropout rates by race and gender as well as data on students who are sent to in-school and out-of-school suspension.
Benson also mentioned what is called a campus racial climate survey, which details incidents of interpersonal racism at each district campus.
"What we are finding is, one, the incidents are low, but they're there," he said. "With students and faculty who have been witness to or have experienced incidents, indicate they feel comfortable reporting [racially insensitive incidents], but when it comes to actually reporting, that number is low."
Therefore, Benson said, it will be necessary to revamp the district's infrastructure built upon ease of reporting incidents.
Benson also recommended school administrators attend the the Anti-Racist Leadership Institute, a program that includes a 40-hour anti-racist master class in addition to 12 weeks of ongoing coaching, in order to help develop more stable anti-racist practices.
The update came on the heels of a handful of parents who, at the same April 19 meeting, admonished the board, a Doris Miller Middle School teacher and SMCISD Superintendent Michael Cardona for their handling of a December incident during which a student reported witnessing a racial slur.
The racial equity audit was set in motion by the school board months before the incident, but Benson did mention it in the course of his update.
Benson said his firm is on track to provide full data findings and more specific recommendations to the district sometime in May.
"This is something the district had in the works ... prior to November," board member John McGlothlin said. "It's something we all collectively wanted to see in and around things we were hearing in a national conversation. I understand parents' concerns raised tonight."