The policy, passed in a 5-0 vote, includes an overall equity belief statement and identifies governance, education, the workforce, and operations as key areas for APS to practice equity in.
“Equity is tied to everything that we do, and we are committed to eliminating inequitable practices in cultivating the unique gifts, talents and interests of every student so that success and failure are no longer predictable by student identity such as race, culture, socioeconomics, gender, or any other social factor,” Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Arron Gregory said at the August 20 meeting, quoting the belief statement.
The School Board first directed APS to create an equity policy in August 2018. After two years of drafting and revisions based on APS and community feedback, the policy will now help guide APS action relating to inclusion, equity and diversity.
“Having this as an official policy is just part of the work that we need to do,” Superintendent Francisco Durán said in the meeting. “Moving forward to having an equity mindset, where we’re actually changing our practices and our actions and our thinking is really what we need to be moving forward with, and we are.”
The policy follows reported racial disparities in standardized testing results and student suspension rates within APS. The U.S. Department of Justice has previously alleged that APS provided inadequate help for students learning English.
Gregory said APS, when developing the policy, accounted for such disparities.
“APS acknowledged the historical and current impact of bias, prejudice and discrimination, and is implementing this equity policy, and subsequent implementation procedures, to address the impact discrimination has had on students and staff,” he said.
Monique O’Grady, Chair of the School Board, said the equity policy can help solve such issues if it is followed.
“[The policy] will help us make decisions that can help all students reach their highest potential without placing opportunity gaps in their way,” O’Grady said. “This is necessary to continue addressing disparities that exist in our country, in our state, and, yes, even in our own system.”
Photo via Arlington Public Schools