Do you support School Resource Officers (SRO) and Constables in schools? Please explain your position.
I do support having School Resource Officer or Constables in our schools as it establishes a tone of safety for everyone: students, staff, parents and visitors alike. While teaching business education and criminal justice classes, I often used the SRO to help demonstrate different aspects of their job and provide additional hands-on guidance and training for our students. Having an officer or constable in the school offers an almost immediate response time should law enforcement be necessary. It also provides an opportunity for students to talk with and interact with the officer or constable to create and build connections or calm fears.
Delaware Department of Education data shows that Black, Brown and Special Education students in Red Clay School District are disproportionately represented in discipline referrals, suspensions and arrest. What other steps, beyond existing policies, should the school district take to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all students?
I believe Black, Brown and Special Education students are disproportionately represented in discipline referrals, suspensions and arrests in most districts, not just Red Clay. My first piece of guidance would be that we need to revisit the school code of conduct for both Staff and Students, and ensure that every student, their family, and the school staff are aware of the expectations of all students and the related consequences. At the very least, all district staff should have extensive training in understanding children of poverty, sensitivity training, trauma informed training and understand and provide culturally responsive education.
What does equity mean to you?
Equity means to be fair and impartial to every staff, student, and family member in the district. For Lake Forest, this means requiring fair and just treatment, without favoritism or discrimination in every aspect of participation in the Lake Forest School District.
How would you work to improve equity in funding and resources allocations in the District?
Many of the line items in the budget for the District are specifically designated for specific items. We need to strive to keep all of our students in school and instill in them that even though technically they can choose to drop out of school, it is certainly not a good option. Given that there are already line items in the school budgets for professional development and workshops for staff, and resources that can be designated to purchase programs for credit recovery, mental health programs, etc. for our students, there is a lot of room for our students to get extra support in areas of need. We know that many of our Black, Brown and Special Education students are behind at least one grade level and are more likely to drop out without interventions. By putting special programs in place, we can encourage and scaffold students as they begin their climb to success and at the same time provide them the knowledge that we believe in them and want them to succeed.
Do you believe implicit bias impacts students and staff? If so, how will you work to lessen the negative effects of implicit bias within the school district? How will you work to address implicit bias within yourself?
I absolutely believe implicit bias has the potential to impact students and staff alike. The greatest example of this is simply the landscape of our district has evolved from a predominantly farming community where the largest employer in the District was the District itself. In the last fifteen (15) years, much of the farmland has been sold and housing developments have replaced the fields of soybeans, corn and potatoes. New residents are from neighboring states and across the country and bring a new group of citizens, ideas and expectations. Some of that implicit bias is in the form of unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that cause people to make generalizations about people that happen to have new, different, or have different ideas and solutions. We need to find a common ground to successfully move forward.
Describe how you would ensure quality education for a diverse student population: i.e. the gifted and talented, the “average” student, students with special educational needs, students with different abilities, English Language learners, low-income students and those with cultural differences.
The best way to ensure quality education for a diverse student population is to hire qualified staff who have been trained and are prepared to address these issues head on every single day in- and out-side of the classroom. There should be continued training in diversity, teaching students of poverty, trauma-informed education and culturally responsive education. They should be able to differentiate their lessons, activities and assessments to meet the needs of all of their students.
Are there any other equity, racial justice, or funding goals not talked about above that you hope to accomplish in your term in office?
Aside from what we’ve talked about, it is incredibly important to me that every staff member, student or family that enters into the District finds a welcoming and determination to meet the needs of their student that they entrust to the care of the educational staff. Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, I hope to continue to strive to achieve for everyone to the best of my ability.