In 2021 the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) released information regarding expectations for all New York state school districts to create Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies. This initiative aims to ensure school districts "create and sustain safe, nurturing and engaging learning environments for ALL students."
The Arkport CSD administration and board of education set out to address this directive in a thoughtful and deliberate manner. Beginning in early 2022, discussions focused on clearly defining diversity, equity, and inclusion to establish an agreed-upon starting point.
How Arkport defines diversity, equity, and inclusion
Diversity - Welcome and Supported
Diversity means a wide range of human qualities and attributes
Diversity is an educational and social asset for ALL
Respecting diversity helps us meet the physical, social, and emotional needs of ALL
Equity - Opportunities to Succeed
Equity means fair treatment and opportunity for ALL
Equity is fair access to programs, classes, and needed supports
Equity prepares ALL students to be actively engaged, citizens
Inclusion - Cultures, Languages, and Experiences
Inclusion means recognizing, understanding, and accepting ALL
Inclusion teaches and models respect for ALL
Inclusion makes ALL feel safe, supported, and valued
Subsequently, the board, in conjunction with district leaders, defined its vision for DEI with the intent to fully and most capably serve all Arkport students. In no uncertain terms, the board stated that Arkport has always worked towards creating a safe and nurturing learning environment — and will continue to do so. In its statement, the board affirmed the importance of "...advocating for all perspectives to be given equal weight and opportunity…" The board recognized the need to promote civil discourse and, in turn, teach Arkport students how to respectfully discourse differing viewpoints.
Establishing a DEI committee
The board of education's vision statement concluded with an invitation for key stakeholders to join a committee tasked with drafting the district's DEI policy. Eleven individuals, representing parents/guardians, faculty, staff, and board members, were asked to serve on the committee. Below is a list of the members
Tina Broderick: 7-12 Counselor
Megan Button: Parent
Michelle Chamberlin: BOE Member
Alli Feenaughty: Teacher
Emily Guthrie: Parent
Amy Harris: PK- 6 Counselor
Jesse Harper: Superintendent
Koby Hahn: 7-12 Principal
Meghann Khork: HR Manager
Heidi Pfaff: Parent
Claire Smith: PK-6 Principal
Since November 2022 the committee has met, using the board's statement to ensure the vision outlined there is well represented in the draft DEI policy. Committee members have discussed their concerns, dispelled misconceptions, and shared their recommendations for the policy's content. Now they would like to extend the first of many opportunities for the ACS community to provide feedback.
The committee is seeking input regarding "thoughts, questions, or concerns" the school community may have about how the district is approaching diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is critical to the process of drafting a DEI policy to gather thoughts and opinions from various stakeholder groups. Please take a few minutes to share your perspective using this survey link. By doing so, you will help the committee ensure all stakeholder views are expressed in the draft policy.
This will not be the last opportunity for public comment. However, the committee encourages ACS stakeholders to participate in this process early and often.
Click here to see the complete timeline: DEI Committee Timeline