September 2, 2020 Update - Inside Carroll Magazine Article
The Carroll School Board has requested that the Administration and members of a 63-person advisory committee participate in workshops to engage the public in the equity work of the district. School Board President Michelle Moore says the workshops will give Trustees an opportunity to ask questions of members of the District Diversity Council (DDC) who have worked with the Administration for nearly two years on a proposed Cultural Competence Action Plan (CCAP). The district’s commitment to equity and inclusion has been a primary focus of work since the Administration began implementing a nine-step plan in November 2018 following a racial slur video by local teens that went viral on social media. That initial plan emphasized staff training, face-to-face meetings to discuss cultural awareness and kindness with student leaders, formation of the DDC and revisions to the Student Code of Conduct. Staff training on equity and inclusion began in February 2019 and has continued since that time. The School Board held a meeting to listen to parent concerns, and then met face-to-face with students in grades 9-12 at Student Diversity Dialogues hosted at The Marq. Southlake Mayor Laura Hill also formed the Mayor’s Alliance for Unity and Culture to enact positive change in the greater Southlake community. The SCOC changes were approved by the School Board back in August 2019. In December 2019, the district launched its first-ever #WeAreDragons Culture Survey to collect data and information about Dragon families. The information will serve as a baseline to help CISD communicate facts and create greater awareness surrounding equity and inclusion. More recently a comprehensive five-year action plan that included the Administration’s original nine actions steps, along with input and recommendations from the DDC, was presented to the Carroll School Board. The timing of the presentation was delayed by emergency school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, causing concern by some parents that the community was not fully aware of the DDC work.
Trustees ultimately agreed more time was needed for dialogue to discuss aspects of the plan with Carroll families. Additional action steps outlined in the proposed plan were either suggested by one of six DDC subcommittees or by the CISD leadership team. “This outstanding group of committed people spent a lot of time working to make sure every child feels loved and cared for in Carroll ISD,” says Superintendent Dr. David J. Faltys. “It will be important going forward for everyone else in the community to understand the plan the district ultimately puts in place.” "We asked our Dragon community to help us navigate the important issues of racial equity and inclusion in our schools, and they stepped up back in 2018,” says Moore. “Now it’s time to bring everyone back to the table to answer questions and gain more clarity on what is proposed in the plan.” The membership of the council is as diverse as the ideas they brought to the table. School officials say the students, staff, parents and community leaders on the DDC spent time each meeting getting to know one another better and bonding over a common mission. “The DDC is comprised of a group of people from a variety of different ethnicities and backgrounds but we all have a similar goal in common: making the Carroll Independent School District experience a safe and meaningful learning environment, equitable for all students,” says Sheri Mills, a School Board member serving on the DDC. “I'm so proud of the work this group has put forward. Their work is not only something that will make an impact for all students, but it is also a model that other school districts in the state of Texas will follow.”
With the SCOC work completed, the DDC continued to meet throughout the 2019-2020 school year to discuss important issues like staff recruitment, professional development, bias reduction and awareness, student-led policy, curriculum and instruction and communications/outreach. “We did not have an established model on which to build a cultural competence plan. We had no idea how the Southlake community would respond, or who would routinely show up for a conversation that is inherently sensitive and uncomfortable. With all of the unknowns going in, I applaud our council for being vulnerable, present and engaged,” says Tyisha Nelson, Carroll ISD’s Executive Director for Special Programs and a staff liaison to the DDC. Campuses held multi-cultural nights during the 2019-2020 school year to create a greater appreciation and understanding of the diversity represented in Carroll ISD. Building relationships and educating one another about cultural celebrations, foods and holidays became the norm, and every campus formed a Campus Diversity Council to collaborate and share ideas. "I am optimistic that the actions and hard work of the District Diversity Council will result in more welcoming environments in Carroll ISD where students of all backgrounds feel safe and supported, free from bullying and harassment," says Moore.
Dr. Faltys had already been working on giving students a voice in CISD by assigning Coach Eric McDade as the district’s Leadership and Culture Coach. The two of them went to every last year to meet face-to-face with students to discuss the Dragon culture, and things that concern students like homework, dress code, restrooms and the stress caused by the rigor of academic performance in Carroll ISD. One of the features of the proposed CCAP is a Campus Culture Coach program to identify champions for equity and inclusion at each school. If the program is approved, these respected teachers — up to two at each campus — would be trained and earn certification to work with McDade, their fellow teachers on staff and their school’s Campus Diversity Council. The audit recommended in the CCAP is designed to ensure that independent equity experts review the CISD curriculum across all grade levels and subjects. The Administration hopes that an equity audit by outside consultants would either affirm or replace recommendations outlined in the CCAP. "I believe Carroll ISD can be a leader in this work,” says Moore. “Our plan is thoughtful and will require staff, student and community engagement to achieve our goals."
July 23, 2020 Update
The District Diversity Council in partnership with the Carroll ISD Administration presents the DRAFT Cultural Competence Action Plan for public review. The plan will be presented to the Carroll School Board at the August 3, 2020 meeting. The meeting agenda and link will be posted to the CISD website on Friday, July 31.
June 19, 2020 Update
For the past 18 months, the 63-member strong District Diversity Council has been working to promote Cultural Competence in Carroll ISD. This work has been demanding, difficult and, as all worthwhile endeavors are, frustratingly slow at times. However, we have already accomplished much.
We strengthened the Student Code of Conduct in August 2019 to explicitly cover bullying, discrimination and microaggressions motivated by race, color, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or age and made sure these acts were subject to stricter consequences whether committed on-campus or off-campus if they disrupted the learning environment. We also ensured that consequences remained consistent across extra-curricular activities.
We conducted a Culture Survey to learn about the experiences of CISD families and staff and used those findings to inform a proposed and comprehensive five-year Cultural Competence Action Plan.
This plan draws on the work of six subcommittees:
- Curriculum & Instruction
- Professional Development
- Teacher/Staff Recruitment
- Student-Led Education & Policy
- Celebration of Culture, Bias Reduction & Awareness
- Communications & Outreach
Although still in draft form and not yet approved, the plan makes significant and meaningful recommendations.
Regarding our teachers and staff, the plan proposes:
- Requiring regular professional development by teachers and staff related to diversity and inclusion including a District Day of Learning, in-district after school training, small-group opportunities, departmental field trips and individual training.
- Adopting an appraisal indicator that measures employees' commitment to equity and inclusion.
- Hiring designated mentors (called "Campus Culture Coaches" in the plan) to model culturally responsive teaching practices and monitor the implementation of those practices at each campus.
- Recruiting, rewarding, and retaining minority professional, paraprofessional, and auxiliary employees through specific efforts to ensure that our teachers and staff mirror the composition of our community.
Regarding our curriculum and instruction, the plan recommends:
- Conducting an independent, third-party equity audit of CISD curriculum programs and policies.
- Reviewing the scope and sequence of classes to focus on diverse cultures and increasing the expectations for content delivery of diverse cultures.
- Expanding and increasing opportunities for students to express their cultures through art, literature, and celebrations within the CISD curriculum.
In addition, to ensure that all our Dragons are treated properly, the plan proposes:
- Establishing a grievance process to specifically report instances of discrimination,
- Creating a process for campus administrators to record these offenses (whether microaggressions, discriminatory behaviors, or other disciplinary matters) which would be tracked to Student Services and reported monthly to the School Board.
This is just a brief summary of our proposed plan that is scheduled to be presented on August 3, 2020 for consideration and approval by the Carroll ISD School Board. If approved, the plan will be implemented in the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. It is important to note that there are also recommendations for cultural celebrations at each campus, increased communication regarding the wonderful diversity of races, religions and ethnicities found in our community and much more.
These are our immediate next steps, but not our last. We continue to receive regular feedback and input from students, alumni, and parents about actions we should consider to affect long-term change. Temporary solutions are not acceptable. We are committed to listen and learn from our Carroll ISD community and to promote an inclusive culture in which every Dragon knows that they are valued and respected. There will be absolutely no tolerance for racism and hate in Carroll ISD.
We welcome the Carroll Dragon community to join us on this journey of equity, justice and inclusion.