In the name of equity, Webster Groves requires all certified staff to be trained in antiracism; parents raise concerns over videos shown in class
On Jan. 28, 2021, Webster Groves School District published its equity policy with the following purpose:
The Webster Groves School District (WGSD) rejects all forms of racism and bias as destructive to the district’s mission, vision, values and goals. The district is committed to the following principles:
1. Establishing and sustaining a school district community that shares the collective responsibility and is held accountable to address, eliminate and prevent actions, decisions and outcomes that result from and perpetuate racism and bias.
2. Cultivating the unique gifts, talents and interests of every student.
3. Eliminating inequitable practices to end the predictive value of social or cultural factors such as race, socioeconomic status or gender on student success.
4. Respecting and validating diversity.
5. Acknowledging that racism and biases are often compounded by other forms of discrimination including, but not limited to, those protective classes referenced in policy AC, which prohibits discrimination or harassment based upon any characteristics protected by law.
The policy requires:
“WGSD will employ a central office administrator to support diversity, equity and inclusion work with students, staff and district families.” and “The district shall design and implement an annual diversity, equity and inclusion professional development plan for all district staff. The development shall include an understanding of racism and bias and how each leads to inequitable environments, practices and outcomes for students.”
The school board then posted a detailed outline based on its policy titled, “Moving Towards Equity.” It states: “In order to change the pattern of better serving certain groups of children, we must disrupt
traditional beliefs, systems, structures, and practices which favor those privileged by race,
economics, gender, etc.”
- “The high school counselors will try to schedule students of color together in advanced track classes to create student support groups.”
- “Partnering with community to produce a Black History Month program to bring awareness to the North Webster community.”
- “Additional Anti-Racism staff training will begin during the 2018-2019 school year.”
- “District staff engaged in professional learning related to implicit bias, and how we all have biases that we need to acknowledge and work to eliminate within our daily interactions.”
- “In an effort to support emerging equity needs, the district created a specific equity line item of $20,000. A portion of this money has been used to support access to wireless internet for students receiving free/reduced lunch.”
- “Staff are committed to attend Crossroads’ Anti-Bias/Anti-Racist (ABAR) two and a half day training focused on understanding and analyzing systemic racism. Thus far, 11 of 26 certified staff members have attended the training. The goal is that by 2019, all certified staff members will have attended the ABAR training.”
- “In January, the PTO will appoint someone to a newly created equity position in order to help the organization think through equity issues and provide opportunities for communal learning. The Equity Officer will look at the practices/events of the PTO to examine if they are equitable to all. This position will also bring learning opportunities to PTO meetings to explore matters of race.”
- “We have purchased We Stories literature for both classrooms and families in support of conversations about race and held an evening event to share on this topic.”
Parents reported the following videos were presented during a high school biology class:
Here is an email that went home to all families on April 29, 2021: