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Schools seek leader to support ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’

School Committee members agreed unanimously at their last meeting that the district needs someone to lead school efforts to create an environment that feels safe and supportive for everyone. As a step toward that goal, the committee approved a job description for the position of “diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator.”

At their Feb. 8 meeting, committee members also agreed the schools could not hire a new, full-time person for that position, given the limits of next year’s level-funded budget. But, they decided, the budget could stretch far enough to provide a stipend for a current employee to apply to be the point person in this effort and take on some of the position’s responsibilities.

School Superintendent Linda Dwight supported creating the stipended position. She explained that a number of teachers and administrators are working on diversity issues, but no one is in the lead position to pull their work together.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion—often abbreviated DEI—have been the focus of a committee within the school for several years. The issue received a boost last June when a group of Bromfield alumni wrote an open letter calling for the Harvard Public Schools to take a stand against discrimination in all its forms. And a survey last fall showed that a substantial number of Bromfield students had experienced or witnessed discrimination based on “race, culture, ability, identity, or beliefs.”

The School Committee first considered the DEI coordinator’s job description in late January but postponed finalizing it to ask for input from other concerned groups, including the newly formed Bromfield student club focused on social justice. As approved this month, the job description calls for someone who has “a passion for this area of work” and is able “to develop trusting and collaborative relationships with all students.”

One problem that last fall’s student survey highlighted was the lack of a clear path for reporting incidents of bias or racism in school. Creating such a path will be one responsibility of the new coordinator. Among the person’s other responsibilities will be helping the district to recruit a more diverse faculty and staff, working with department leaders to develop curriculum with more diverse viewpoints, and planning outreach to the wider community.

Responsibilities of a DEI Coordinator

This partial list of a DEI coordinator’s responsibilities was derived from the job description approved by the School Committee.

  • Create ways for reporting and addressing incidents and evidence of bias and racism in our schools.
  • Help to implement a student mediation program at the middle/high school. Develop student leaders and help create safe places.
  • Help the district recruit and retain staff, faculty members, and school leaders representing worldwide diversity.
  • Design and provide professional development to staff, faculty, and school leaders on DEI topics.
  • Collaborate with district leaders to conduct ongoing reviews of curriculum and materials for bias and to increase diverse perspectives.
  • Consult with school leaders and teachers on the response to events in the local, state, national, and global news.
  • Collaborate with and support the work of community groups including, but not limited to, Arm in Arm and the Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Committee.
  • Plan and implement outreach to parents and the broader community.
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