Group delivers diversity report to Hart district

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – Calling for a permanent role for diversity in the classroom, a group of parents and school officials on Wednesday presented their blueprints for change to the William S. Hart Union High School District board. The school district diversity committee’s recommendations include a review of the school year calendar to recognize religious observances and for a counselor at each school who would focus on diversity issues. The recommendations also called for creating hotlines at all schools, in which students and staff could report problems, and establishing clear consequences for those who violate diversity policies. “Our message was that we need to stop these hateful acts,” said school board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine, the committee’s co-chairwoman. “We need to be sure that all our kids are safe and respected and that we don’t let these types of things threaten the health of our school or our community.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week The diversity committee was formed last year after some families confronted the school board with charges of racism at schools. Since then, the group has gathered strategies and actions that the district could take to address discrimination and promote change for the future. Although the committee’s report was accepted by the school board Wednesday, each recommendation is still under review individually. The school board is expected to periodically provide public updates about where the suggestions stand, said Mercado-Fortine. Board member Dennis King said he wants to see how the recommendations can fit into the district’s strategic planning process that begins in January and then take things from there. King said that some recommendations are more complicated than others and could take more time. Assigning counselors to focus on diversity issues at each school, for example, may require contacting a labor union to change job descriptions and could include negotiations. At the same time, King said that the district is already carrying out some of the committee’s suggestions, such as hiring a diversity coordinator. Last year, the district hired Greg Lee for the job. While Lee’s job is temporary, King said the board will consider making the position permanent, whether it’s full time or part of a position that somebody already has. In addition to diversity, King said the district has other areas of concern that it wants to improve on but has a limited budget within to work. “We have other issues to deal with, such as drug and alcohol and student safety,” King said. “We have to fit it all together.” Mercado-Fortine said some recommendations have no impact on the budget, such as reviewing the school calendar to include days off on religious observances. Diversity training has already started with school administrators and classified staff and will soon include teachers and counselors. Some teachers are already trained in diversity and could assist with educating others, Mercado-Fortine said. “You can really bring in a healthy culture without a lot of money,” she said. “These are things that are not connected to the budget.” Diversity committee member Steve Herskovitz hopes the group can continue its work as a permanent extension of the district, rather than its present temporary status, to insure that policies and recommendations continue. “Diversity is an ongoing issue,” Herskovitz said. “I believe it needs an ongoing committee.” Sue Doyle, (661) 257-5254 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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