Dayton school board sets racial justice expectations

Dozens of men greet students with cheers as they arrive at Dayton Boys Prep Academy during a Men of Color day that brought more than 200 black male role models into public schools. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF
Dozens of men greet students with cheers as they arrive at Dayton Boys Prep Academy during a Men of Color day that brought more than 200 black male role models into public schools. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Dayton's school board unanimously approved a racial justice resolution Tuesday, declaring racism a public health and educational crisis, and requiring the district to take several concrete steps.

The actions required by 14-section resolution include expanding diversity and bias training, revising the discipline system to a restorative justice model, and producing annual reports on racial diversity in hiring and investigation of racial bias complaints, among other steps.

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School board member Will Smith led creation of the document, which had its roots in a resolution passed by Akron schools in June. Smith said DPS’ board needs to transform the school district and is working hard to make sure all voices are heard.

“This is not only something I believe in, but I think our board understands is important,” Smith said. “We understand the diversity of our community, we understand the historical perspectives that face our community every day.”

Other key points of the resolution include:

** The board “declares its commitment to … sustaining a culture of anti-racism districtwide” and directs its policy and family outreach groups to “develop a racial equity policy” to reduce the effects of racism.

** A directive is issued to integrate “racially and culturally relevant content” into the curriculum.

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** The board “directs the Superintendent to aggressively recruit and develop teachers and staff who reflect the diversity of students.” The superintendent is also to “identify the person(s) specifically responsible for planning and implementing the marketing and strategy of recruitment and retention of Black educators and administrators.”

** The schools must “publish student rights and responsibilities on every campus where School Resource Officers (SRO) are assigned.”

** Employee Resource Groups are to be established, focusing on “supporting and improving retention, morale, professional growth, and opportunities for teachers and staff” (to build) positive staff climate.

** The board “directs the District to intentionally work towards improving the educational outcomes of Black students and students of color.

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As part of the resolution, the board called for any policy recommendations to be delivered this school year. The document calls for the board to evaluate progress towards these goals every six (6) months.

School board member William Harris called the plan “comprehensive and needed,” saying he looks forward to positive results. Board vice president Jocelyn Rhynard said DPS has gotten many questions from residents about how it will handle race and equity issues.

“I’m proud that we are a board that is united and we don’t have to worry about getting everyone on the same page,” Rhynard said, “so we can move forward to do everything we can to break down systemic racism and do everything we can to provide an equitable education for every student in this district.”

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