You may be aware that the District has been taking several steps to better understand issues in our district around bias and discrimination and to identify specific action steps we can take to improve the culture and climate within our schools and our community. As one initial step in this process, I've worked with volunteers at the Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions Social Work Program to create a "needs assessment" in the form of a survey. I am writing to you today to ask that you take a few moments to follow this link: SURVEY LINK, and provide to us some information about your perspectives related to bias in our schools. Please know that individual responses will be kept private and that only aggregated data will be reported externally. The survey will remain open until Monday, July 9th at Noon.
In addition to the survey, I wanted to take a moment to update members of our school community on other important action steps related to this effort:
At the June 28 Board Meeting, the Board of Education will be asked to formally adopt Responsive Classroom for grades K-6 for all buildings in the District and to require all K-6 teachers to have at least level 1 training by the end of the 2018-2019 school year. Responsive Classroom is a great baseline program for setting the standard in our schools about how we communicate and interact with one another as members of a community.
- Volunteers at the Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions Social Work Program have been working with me to collect information about programs for schools to specifically teach about implicit bias. Soon we will begin reviewing what is available so as to work towards adopting additional programming for intermediate and middle grades students related to issues of implicit bias and discrimination.
- The Athens City School District Administrative Team will all be trained by an attorney from the Bricker & Eckler Law Firm on how best to investigate and respond to any allegation or identified situation that may be construed as being a violation of either Title VI & VII (Civil Rights) and Title IX (Sexual Discrimination), as well as to complaints involving alleged sexual harassment or assault in early August, 2018.
- Results of the needs assessment referenced above will be analyzed with the assistance of volunteers from the Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions Social Work Program and several community focus groups will be convened to further garner information about the experiences of differing groups of our total school population. By hearing individual stories and experiences, we can better understand the situation and make efforts towards positive change.
- The District's motto is "Every Learner. Every Day." Part of our mission must include assuring that all students have equal access to a rigorous and enriching school experience. That access begins with feeling safe, secure, and comfortable coming to school. As such, the Athens City School District Board of Education, Administrative Team, Faculty, and Staff are committed to better knowing our community and better serving our community by creating a school climate and culture that welcomes and celebrates all members of our diverse membership.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this message and for completing the LINKED SURVEY.
Thomas J. Gibbs, Ed.D.
Athens City School District