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HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

901 E. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The School Board of Hillsborough County, Florida, met in Workshop Session Tuesday, April 11, 2017, at 9 a.m., in the School Board Auditorium, 901 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, with Superintendent Jeff Eakins, and Board Members Lynn L. Gray, April Griffin (arrived 9:46), Sally Harris, Tamara P. Shamburger, Melissa Snively(arrived 9:08), Cindy Stuart, and Susan Valdes present. Chair Cindy Stuart presided.

Others Present:

Board Attorney – James Porter

Chief of Staff: Alberto Vazquez, Ed.D.
Deputy Superintendent: Van Ayres
Chief of Schools, Administration: Harrison Peters

Assistant Superintendents/Division Chiefs:
      Academic Support and Federal Programs –Tracye Brown
      Business – Gretchen Saunders
      Diversity – Minerva Spanner-Morrow
      Educational Leadership and Professional Development – Tricia McManus
      Human Resources – Stephanie Woodford
      Operations – Chris Farkas
      Outreach – Larry Sykes, Ed.D
      Educational Access, Opportunity, and Alternatives – Wynne Tye
      Teaching and Learning – Debbie Cook

Communications and Media Officer – Teresa Peterson
External Communications Manager – Tanya Arja
Administrative Secretary (Recording) – Kandee King

News Media Representatives:
      Tampa Bay Times – Marlene Sokol

Approximately 35 people were in the audience, including other school district personnel.

Chair Stuart called the meeting called to order at 9 a.m.

     (1) Overview of a Tentative Equity Plan (Chief of Staff and Office of Diversity)

This workshop was held to provide School Board Members with an overview of the implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusions work as a result of the Racial Equity Policy.

Superintendent Eakins made brief remarks.

Chief Diversity Officer, Minerva Spanner-Morrow; Chief of Staff, Dr. Alberto Vázquez; Supervisor of Professional Development, Greg Basham; and School Psychologist, Dr. Melissa Bahamonde, began the presentation by giving an overview of their childhood and emphasized the importance of how the work promoting equity must reflect in our own personal work. This is also a work in progress and will not happen overnight.

Diversity is the organization that recognizes and celebrates the people with many differences. Diversity refers to socioeconomics, power, privilege, class, race, ethnicity, language, gender, age, ability, spiritual beliefs, and practice, sexual orientation and all other aspects of culture.

Equity is an accommodation and adjustment that make practices and behaviors for individual differences so that outcomes are the same for all. Inclusion makes sure all diverse groups are represented and included in all sectors of an organization or organizational life.

The definition of Institutional Racism, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary, "It is racism by individuals or informal social groups, governed by behavioral norms that support racist thinking and foment active racism.”

Race is a delicate and uncomfortable topic. National studies show students want to talk about their identities. By 2044 the ethnic and racial minorities will be the majority. This creates a challenge for schools and school districts to be culturally responsive and become culturally competent for all students so not to favor one group over another.

Currently our district is broken up into thirds, we need to find an equitable practice to close this gap. With 60 percent of our students being minority, we need to focus on building relationships and having open and frank conversations with our students.

Increasing diversity in the U.S. population estimates that by 2020 the majority of the nation’s school children will be ethnic minorities and by 2060 one fifth of the population will be foreign born. Nearly three in four American classrooms now include at least one English Language Learner, these students make-up roughly 1 in 10 public school students. Minority males make up part of the poor high school completion rates, in addition to the high number of suspension rates. Progress has been made in the college graduation rates for African American and Hispanic students. However, they are still significantly lagging behind compared to student of other races. Approximately 25 percent of teachers in Hillsborough County Public Schools are minority, while approximately 64 percent of students are minority. Educators must be willing to adjust the educational process to meet the learners’ style and cultural orientation.

"Social exclusion or social marginalization, is the social disadvantage and relegation to the fringe of society. This is a term widely used in Europe, however; was first used in France. It is used across disciplines including education, sociology, psychology, politics, and economics. It’s about the denial of access. It’s about a group of people being included vs a group of people being excluded in society. Persons with disabilities, youth, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people, members of minority groups, indigenous people, internally displaced persons, and non-nationals, including refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers.

Cultural competence is defined as the attainment of attitudes, skills, knowledge, and behaviors that enable staff and students to develop positive relationships and work effectively in cross cultural situations. A culturally competent organization has the capacity to bring people (human capital) together regardless of differences to affect policies and practices that will produce positive outcomes for all (students). Culturally responsive teaching is a set of congruent behaviors that recognize the importance of including cultural references in all aspects of learning.

Based on Hillsborough County Public Schools Racial Equity Policy there are three major areas of focus: Leadership, Teaching and Learning, and Family, Student and Community Engagement. As a district we want to keep students in school, encourage parents to participate in the learning, and recruit administrators and teachers of color with goals to be ambitious. With this in mind the district needs to have a mind shift, do a lot of training and everyone needs to be committed.

Best Practices for District Leadership include:

  • Implement equity within school board and district/school policies and commit to strong equity practices in all sectors of the organization
  • Develop cultural competencies or standards to ensure a culturally competent school district and classrooms
  • Listen to our constituents, acknowledge their concerns, and engage students, families, employees, and community partners
  • Consistently monitor the equity gaps and have accountability systems to monitor the gaps
  • Promote institutional practices that support high academic achievement for all students
  • Invest in early childhood education (pre-school, head start)
  • Update curriculum that is relevant and rigorous for our changing school demographics
  • Promote on-time graduation for all students, especially for African American Males and Hispanic students (3rd grade reading proficiency)
  • Build a positive district/school culture with an emphasis restorative practices versus punitive practices
  • Offer college and career readiness opportunities (internship, volunteering, dual credits)
  • Implementation and monitoring through accountability and evaluation

There was general discussion to include:

Board Members were very appreciative of the information brought forward on this very sensitive subject. As a district, we need to have all adults on board. Employees need to be treated equally and fairly. This will happen in part as we update our current evaluation process, helping us hold all employees accountable for their actions.

Adults need to change the way they think, not the children. Students must be worthy of themselves in order to be the best they can be. Among the childhood stories shared there was one common denominator, a teacher or leader took an interest. This teacher, administrator, or mentor, helped guide in a positive direction without prejudice.

Parents need to be held accountable for student behavior. This will in part help with student success and increase graduation rates.

When we look at recruiting teachers we need to look at educators who are optimistic, and understand the way each individual student learns. It is very important that all students be treated equally and fairly, with the same opportunity to learn.

We have to make sure we understand that we expect the educators to be the experts in this field, not the parents. Teachers are role models. We have a lot of work to do showing that we are practicing diversity.

Mr. Porter brought clarity between the plan and policy. The Board has already approved a racial equity policy. The Superintendent and his staff are working on a plan to accompany this policy.

Hillsborough County Public Schools has approximately 35 percent Latino population.  We should be working with our local universities to grow educators from our students.

Hillsborough County Public Schools, again, is getting national attention on this subject and everyone is looking to see how we move forward.

With no further discussion the workshop was adjourned at 10:59 a.m. (Audio recording on file.)

HCPS publishes minutes of School Board meetings after Board approval. Although the online minutes do not include signatures, citizens may arrange to review the official documents by completing a public records request with the Communications Department.

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