Walpole Public Schools brought in outside consultant, Mass Insight, to conduct an equity audit for the district. This decision was communicated in the superintendent’s report at a school committee meeting on January 27, 2022.
As part of the process of conducting the equity audit, Mass Insight administered a survey to collect data from students in grades 4-12.
Not all parents were informed that a survey was taking place that asked questions about race, identity and gender and also encouraged children to join race based focused groups without first telling parents. Some parents only found out about the survey after their children volunteered to participate in the focus group and they were contacted by the school district to inform them that their child would be removed from class to attend. Despite assurances that the survey was anonymous, students who signed up for focus groups were asked by the outside consultants for their first and last name and school email address. How and why was Mass Insight given access to students via their school email?
(Reminder that under federal law, parents must be notified of this kind of survey in advance and be provided with a mechanism to opt their children out. That law—the Protection of Pupil Rights Act or PPRA—is here.)
Below is the cover letter that accompanied the survey. Notice the promise of anonymity and direct ask that students participate in focus groups with adults from Mass Insight. It is unclear if those adults were given background checks before working directly with students.
Parents Defending Education has submitted a public records request for the contract agreement, including invoices, between the Walpole Schools and Mass Insight.
Update: We received a copy of the agreement with Mass Insight and all invoices— the total cost of the Equity Audit was $74,600.
Full agreement and copies of invoices is below:
Parents Defending Education opted not to pay the $5,000 fee for the 5,961 emails/records they found from 2021 and 2022 that reference the “equity audit.” But that is a lot of emails so clearly this has been a major priority for the district.