The goal of Boulder Valley School District’s Equity Council was to encourage difficult conversations in our community around the treatment of students of color and their families in BVSD and ways that the district can more equitably serve them. To do so BVSD sought to ensure representative voices from students, parents, and staff.
Students, parents and staff all represented on the Equity Council
Of the 40 Equity Council members, 16 of the participants were parents, 8 were students, and 8 were employees. They had the opportunity to bring their personal experiences and viewpoints to the group. All were appreciative of the opportunity to not only share their experiences, but to listen to the experiences of others in the community who come from different backgrounds and roles.
From parent Martin Osborn:
“You can always find compromise and that’s the thing we have to expect is that we’re not a monoculture in the Boulder Valley School District,” said Martin Osborn, a BVSD parent and member of the Equity Council. “There are multiple opinions, multiple views, multiple backgrounds that people are coming from. I think it’s important to hear that.”
From student Whitney Toutenhoofd, a senior at Fairview:
“Being on the Equity Council was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done throughout High School because I got to meet so many people with such a diverse number of perspectives that I probably would not have met otherwise, especially going to Fairview,” added Toutenhoofd.
READ MORE: Students fight for equity
From BVSD employee, Amy Nelson:
“We live in very polarizing times and it's discouraging that we’re so divided,” said Nelson. “Being on a Council like that helps you listen to other viewpoints and listen to the reasons for those viewpoints.I think that you learn that when you take time to have conversations, we have more similarities than we have differences.”
BVSD Board of Education adopts resolution to remove SROs from schools based on Equity Council recommendation
The early work of the Equity Council was focused on the issue of SROs in BVSD Schools.
From July to mid-October they met weekly, hearing different viewpoints both from members of the committee and from our community, with a goal of eventually coming together to provide a recommendation to the Board of Education regarding the future of BVSD’s School Resource Officer program.
“The topic [SROs] is a challenging one, on so many levels,” said Parent and Equity Council Member Amabel Akwa-Asare. “There is no sugarcoating it. It is emotional for folks who have had direct engagements or incidents. There is a lot of data and information and some of it is conflicting. It is not easy on every level.”
After six weeks of testimony and deliberation, the Equity Council made a recommendation to eventually end BVSD’s SRO program, while building new resources and training to address safety and disproportionate discipline of students of color, previously identified by district administration.
What’s next for the Equity Council
The Equity Council will continue to tackle a variety of issues in the future and parents, students and staff will always play a critical role. They want to see the district succeed and provide a great environment for their children. The Council is next meeting on December 9 to discuss what their next steps will be.
The Boulder Valley School District strongly appreciates all who have participated on the Council and who will continue to help the district make progress in this area.