At a recent East Lansing School Board meeting, parents discussed diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within the district.
Three years ago, ELPS announced a series of changes to improve its DEI efforts. The district proceeded to try and increase diversity in the faculty and staff and create programs to increase inclusion.
In September, a teacher at MacDonald Middle School was suspended for s second time in four months for using racial slurs and inappropriate language. Following these events Brandy Branson, representative for the East Lansing Parent Advocacy Team (ELPAT), proposed a question:
“Are the sessions being looked at from an equity lens?”
“I heard no definitely, everyone skirted around all of that, and I tried very hard on parent perspective,” Branson said. “I heard them say, ‘Claudia…Claudia… you have a whole team that we just hired that is on safety, health, mental all of those things that should have been spoken of. I am offended because I know who Claudia is and every time I heard that come out of their mouths I felt like you were saying we have our one black person that can speak for all minorities. And that is not looking at something from an equity lens.”’
Another ELPS parent Brad Lutz said the district needs to do more with its equity efforts for the children.
“I think we need an investment in doing equity audit in this district,” Lutz said. “As a parent in this district of both white and brown children I can see the vast differences in how both those sets of kids are treated in this district. We’re not going to get a good equity policy and I applaud all the good work going on in the education sessions. But there’s things we need to target so that we are not back here again.”
Coming into the meeting, Lutz pointed out issues that needed to be fixed and recognized.
“Walking into the building tonight I hit the handicap entrance to open the door and guess what the door was locked,” Lutz said. “We have a lot of blind spots in our district and were not going to move forward until we have someone come from outside and take a look at it for us.”
Moving forward ELPAT wants the district to implement a dashboard for all the schools where they can report what is happening at the schools and have the principles of each school come to board meetings and report.
“That the community knows what is actually happening at the schools, what is happening with the children should never be a surprise,” Branson said. “It is something that should be required from a district standpoint.”