June 20, 2024

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4J superintendent apologizes, invites broad discussion on equity

3 min read
Dr. Andy Dey: "District leadership will be inviting interested folks to conversations about how to best structure our efforts so that we are more effective in our pursuit of educational equity, and that those structures are clearly visible, while at the same time, the bedrock of all that we do."

Eugene 4J schools Superintendent Andy Dey responds to those asking why the district dissolved its equity department. On Oct. 18, Sabrina Gordon:

Sabrina Gordon (Eugene Education Association): I am Sabrina Gordon, president of Eugene Education Association, and I’m joined tonight by EEA Vice President Imelda Cortez.

[00:00:17] We are here tonight to speak about 4J’s decision to dissolve the Department of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

[00:00:25] In the words of John Lewis: “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something. You have to do something.”

[00:00:37] Dissolving this department directly impacts our BIPOC and historically underserved students, staff and community.

[00:00:45] John Q: During the public comment period:

[00:00:49] Indigo Amarys: My name is Indigo Amarys. I work at Community Alliance of Lane County doing educational equity work… I’m concerned about the dissolution of the equity department… Without explanation, students are seeing spaces, departments, and roles created with them in mind being dissolved or defunded, which is sending a message.

[00:01:04] John Q: On Nov. 1:

[00:01:07] Superintendent Andy Dey: In speaking with folks after hearing those comments, it became clear to me that the changes we made left some to question, if not fear, we were possibly turning our back on the equity work that needs to be done in all aspects of this district.

[00:01:19] So, for that, I offer a sincere and unconditional apology.

[00:01:24] Most importantly, I want to say that I hear you when you say those changes need to be revisited. I hear you when you say that the district’s commitment to equity should not be muted in any way. And I hear you when you say you feel those changes resulted in a less than full-throated commitment to equity of our district.

[00:01:43] I want to be clear that turning our backs on the equity work before us was not my intention. I also want to be clear that my intentions are less important than the impact our changes have had on members of the school district community.

[00:01:56] Good advice to me is that one should never judge the value of an apology the moment it is given.

[00:02:03] To that end, over the coming weeks, district leadership will be inviting interested folks to conversations about how to best structure our efforts so that we are more effective in our pursuit of educational equity, and that those structures are clearly visible, while at the same time, the bedrock of all that we do.

[00:02:19] I welcome broad voices from the district and the community to help us grapple with the complexities of reimagining how a school district can best serve its community, and how to ensure that the entire organization is oriented with the right focus in mind at the same time.

[00:02:33] Community is not dependent on universal agreement or acquiescence. Instead, community is dependent upon the willingness to share a dissenting opinion and to take those opinions into account when determining how to move forward from points of disagreement.

[00:02:46] For that, I want to thank those who took the time to share their thoughts on what is best for the students, families, and staff of this district. In return, I offer my commitment to revisiting what is not working for those same students, families and staff until we find the most promising path forward together.

[00:03:01] John Q: 4J Superintendent Andy Dey apologizes to the community, and invites a broad conversation on how to move forward on equity.

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