by Mica Contreras
I am happy to announce that after months of organizing, including public comments at board meetings by parents and students, letters to the board, letters to the editor, support from community groups, and meetings with district leadership, that on March 2 the 4J School Board voted unanimously to adopt the Racial Harassment Policy.
The new policy contains all of the fundamental components we have been advocating for including:
- District wide– It applies in all programs and activities of the district and applies to all persons in the district including students, staff, board members and volunteers.
- Definitions– Racial harassment is clearly defined in the policy.
- Education/Training– The policy requires the district to provide an educational program that teaches students to be respectful of others in a diverse society and to understand the impact of racial harassment on students, staff and community. The policy also provides mandatory training and orientation of staff including teaching staff how to create positive educational environments; and prevent, recognize, discourage and respond to racial harassment.
- Support– There is now a Hate and Bias Response Team to support students. Students will also receive a description of resources and support structures available in the community that corresponds with their specific circumstance.
- Transformative Response– Responses to racial harassment must, “be reasonably calculated to stop the harassing conduct or discrimination, prevent its recurrence, and include educational components that promote understanding of and respect for human rights and diversity. The administrator will prioritize practices that repair the violator’s connection with the school community, and promote social-emotional learning, growth and transformation of the individual who caused harm. The administrator will investigate and implement needed measures in the school community to address climate issues, promote transformation in the school culture, and prevent recurrence of incidents”.
- Ease of Reporting– The policy requires that a variety of ways to report (and yearly training for students on how to report) be made available, including a mobile option.
- Follow-up– The policy requires an annual review of major incidents and recommendations for improvement. We will now have a way to disaggregate data and follow-up in places of concern.
- Hate and Bias Response Team– A team was created after our initial meeting with district leadership in December. The policy also requires that the district “Maintain partnerships in the community that will enhance the district’s ability to prevent and comprehensively respond to major incidents.”
I would like to give a special shout out to board members Maya Rabasa and Laural O’Rourke, who worked to ensure that the policy reflected the needs and wants of the community.
I would also like to give a special shout out to Michelle Hsu, who was an integral part of the team that made this happen.
In addition, thank you to all community partners who supported our work including: Centro Latino Americano; Escudo Latino; Grupo Latino de Acción Directa; Human Rights, Human Stories; Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Springfield/Eugene; Lane East Asian Network (LEAN); Holli Johnson Lane ESD, Lane African American/Black Student Success Plan; Linda Hamilton, President, Blacks in Government Equity, Excellence and Opportunity; Thomas Anil Oommen, 4J Equity Committee; NAACP Eugene Springfield Oregon Unit 1119 and Transponder!
I would also like to thank all the community members who wrote to the board, spoke to a friend or made public comments at a meeting. And finally, last but not least, I want to thank the families and students who trusted me with their stories. We did it! We are making a difference!
We will keep working to ensure equity and justice are foundational in the district.
Mica Contreras is Justice and Equity Program Organizer for CALC. For more, see the CALC website: https://www.calclane.org/.