Community wins the fight for equality in schools

Community+wins+the+fight+for+equality+in+schools

Hannah Shoffitt, News and Opinion Editor

As of July 20 the Lewiston School District has new anti-discrimination policies that apply to staff and students for all of its schools.
The policies formed after community members started the “Know Better, Do Better” campaign. Sarah Graham, Christine Jorgens and other Lewiston residents began working with the school board on creating clearer policies regarding discrimination in 2019.
In late July, the district’s anti-discriminatory policies took shape. They have six expectations for the outcomes:
1. Developing and releasing district-wide anti-racism statements that address marginalized populations’ needs. These were posted online and in district buildings in August 2020 before the school year started.
2. Banning hate speech and symbols, including, but not limited to, the confederate flag, swastikas, nazi symbols, use of the ‘n-word.’ Schools were expected to publish specific disciplinary procedures for offenses in August before the school year began.
3. Developing an anti-discriminatory policy that explicitly addresses racial harassment and discrimination. This policy will also include disciplinary procedures and an electronic option for people to anonymously report bullying, harassment and other issues. The expected completion date is January 2021, before the second semester begins.
4. Requiring all district employees to have yearly training in anti-racism, implicit bias, cultural competency and inclusive practices. This is set to be in place in January 2021.
5. Making a full review of the district-wide curriculum for cultural responsiveness, historical accuracy, representation and implicit bias. Changes to the curriculum will be recommended in June 2021.
6. Assigning or hiring a qualified district employee who will be responsible for racial equity and cultural responsiveness. This should be complete by June 2021.
As part of the “Know Better, Do Better” campaign, Graham had this message for the schools: “We expect you to do better to protect the emotional and physical safety of all children.”