VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Public Schools adopted an equity policy at Wednesday night’s school board meeting.
The new policy would ultimately mean bias training for staff and school board members, among other new practices and initiatives.
Now, Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence says the equity council will work with school officials to put together an equity assessment then implement a plan.
The director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, Dr. Laquiche Parrott, believes gaining the community’s perspective will be the most important part of developing the plan.
“Truly learning from them what their perceptions are of teaching and learning in Virginia Beach Public Schools. What are their needs?” said Parrott.
The policy mandates training for staff and school board members about implicit bias, cultural awareness, and culturally responsive teaching.
Spence says the outcome of the equity assessment would ultimately decide what that training would look like.
For example, the assessment may say there’s an opportunity to improve in a specific area, and that’s where they’d implement mandatory training.
“We’re not successful with the students when they’re excluded from a learning experience. Very often, those exclusions happen because students don’t feel like they’re understood and if they’re not willing to build that relationship and develop that rapport with their teachers, often our teachers will tell us on reflection … it’s because we don’t understand each other. So understanding each other and acknowledging those differences and being aware of and thinking about and reflecting on those differences makes us stronger, not more divided,” Spence stated.
Spence says he predicts the assessment will take about a year to complete, then they can go into the planning phase.
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