This week, the South Pasadena Unified School District’s (SPUSD) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee convened to begin its work of examining SPUSD policies and practices for overt and unintended bias and discrimination. More than 20 individuals make up the committee, composed of middle and high school students, parents, teachers, and staff from all five SPUSD campuses.
“Our goal is to be a district where all families are welcomed, and all students are taught and supported in ways that help them achieve their greatest potentials,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services and Committee Co-Facilitator Christiane Gervais. “The committee seeks to examine SPUSD policies and practices in order to recommend revisions to the Superintendent and Board of Education that will support this goal.”
SPUSD created the DEI Committee to build upon on-going work in the past several years including, but not limited to, creating a Multicultural English course for ninth graders and establishing a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League that has provided anti-bias training for teachers, staff and students focused on inclusion and creating a safe and accepting school environment.
The objective of the first DEI Committee meeting was to build community, and the group participated in activities that introduced members to each other, established group norms, and discussed protocols. The session also included a review of and reflection on three critical questions including, what does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean; what does social justice mean; and what policies and practices should the DEI Committee first review.
“SPUSD is firmly committed to the safety and wellbeing of all students and has a responsibility to combat racism in any form and against any group,” said Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “The work of the DEI Committee is critical, especially in light of current events and the rise in hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. SPUSD firmly stands in solidarity with our students, families and employees who are of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent. Through our actions, we can and must play a powerful role in denouncing all acts of hatred.”
The DEI Committee will meet monthly during this school year and the next. A DEI Committee webpage has been created and will include on-going updates of the committee’s progress. The committee will be seeking additional feedback from the larger community and providing additional outreach. The SPUSD Board of Education also will be reviewing a resolution that denounces xenophobia against people of Asian descent during the April board meeting in their continued commitment to acknowledge that racial injustice has no place in our community.