The overall diversity council is part of CISD’s draft cultural competence action plan, which includes several other recommendations to foster a safe, inclusive learning environment for all students. The plan was developed in response to a video posted on social media by students filmed using a derogatory racial slur.
The diversity council will review and advise on the cultural competence plan before it is officially approved, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Janet McDade said.
“There is still much to come for the cultural competence action plan and the diversity council’s work,” said Julie Thannum, assistant superintendent for board and community relations. “We want it to be meaningful, and we want them to enact real change in the district, so the goal is to hear what input they have before we officially adopt this.”
This council would be made up of community members from various demographics and attendance zones to best reflect the values of the community and bring new perspectives, Thannum said.
“The council’s charge would be to help us develop a cultural competency plan that teaches our kids and generations after them how to understand and appreciate individual differences, value the different abilities that people have and to respect and learn from each other,” she said.
Board trustees will be chosen to act as liaisons between the school district and the council, she said. Council members will also monitor progress and hold the school district accountable.
Community members can apply for the diversity council, and the school district will choose 48 individuals from the pool of applicants and nominated individuals, Thannum said. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, Dec. 18.
The framework to create the diversity council was met with support from all board trustees, passing with a unanimous vote.
“It is a progressive idea,” trustee Matt Bryant said. “If we’re going to finalize this plan we need the input from the folks that’ll be sitting on this council.”
In addition to the diversity council the plan recommends strengthening discipline policies to address hateful or discriminatory speech, emphasizing culture awareness, incorporating cultural competence in the K-12 curriculum, providing for diversity training for teachers and bringing in assembly speakers to address topics such as cultural sensitivity.
Although the plan is not officially approved school administrators have begun work to begin implement a few initiatives such as identifying assembly speakers.
“The problem doesn’t happen overnight, and the fix won’t be overnight, but I think we’re committed as a community,” Thannum said. “If anybody can do it I believe Carroll can.”