Carroll ISD trustees to engage public over draft cultural competence plan

In early August, demonstrators called for the board of trustees to approve the new cultural competence plan. (Photos courtesy Anika Shah)
In early August, demonstrators called for the board of trustees to approve the new cultural competence plan. (Photos courtesy Anika Shah)

In early August, demonstrators called for the board of trustees to approve the new cultural competence plan. (Photos courtesy Anika Shah)

Recent Carroll ISD board meetings have drawn crowds of people seeking to weigh in on the district’s draft cultural competence plan.

Speakers at these meetings have included students, alumni, parents and former elected officials. Those advocating for the adoption and implementation of the plan have referenced dozens of testimonies of discrimination from current and former CISD students.

The district’s non-white student body has grown from 11.9% in 2008-09 to 36.9% in 2019-20, according to district and Texas Education Agency data.

Trustees voted Aug. 3 to review the plan in its entirety over a series of future meetings. Those meetings are expected to begin at the end of September and will include two board work sessions and a community engagement session.

The draft competence plan is a 34-page document that has been in the making for over a year. It represents the work of a district diversity council that was formed in response to a video that surfaced in the fall of 2018 in which CISD students were shown using a racial slur.

Some of the primary goals of the draft plan include promoting cultural competence; facilitating communication with stakeholders; advocating for culturally competent and responsive programs and policies; and collecting feedback on cultural competence.

Elements of the draft plan include adding cultural competence training for staff; sharing information about each campus’ diversity and demographics data; and creating a process for tracking and reporting microaggressions.

CISD alum Anika Shah and dozens of others staged protests in front of the CISD administration building in response to the board not adopting the plan at the Aug. 3 meeting.

“I do believe that we had people rallying for us on the board, but it did not go the way we wanted it to go,” Shah said. “It was purely out of frustration from all the students and parents.”Shah also helped launch the Southlake Anti Racism Coalition, which widely shared student testimonies.

“We started doing that by first gaining traction through the testimonies that we’ve been posting on Instagram,” Shah said. “That gained us a lot of momentum because we caught people’s attention through these stories that no one had ever heard before.”

Those opposing the plan believe the language in the document goes too far, and some took issue with the use of terms like “microaggressions.”

The draft defines microaggressions as verbal or nonverbal insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative messages to target groups based upon their marginalized or underrepresented group membership.

“To me, it appears that the issue here is bullying. The student code of conduct already has language against bullying,” CISD parent Mary Tamargo said at an Aug. 17 meeting.

A political action committee called Southlake Families PAC has registered with the Texas Ethics Commission. A website funded by that PAC calls for a 6-month delay to the board’s final vote on the plan.

The board of trustees signaled its desire to engage and inform the public regarding the review of the competence plan as dates are being set for future workshop meetings.

“I’ve got 34 pages worth of questions of the document that we got,” trustee Danny Gilpin said at an Aug. 17 meeting. “I’d like a venue where we can ask our questions, ... and then, we can have a conversation with the community.”
By Gavin Pugh
Gavin has reported for Community Impact Newspaper since June 2017. His beat has included Dallas Area Rapid Transit, public and higher education, school and municipal governments and more. He now serves as the editor of the Grapevine, Colleyville, Southlake edition.


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