More than one year after discussion began, school board approves racial equity policy

The Vashon school board last Thursday approved a racial equity policy that officially states the district’s commitment to eliminating factors within its control that may contribute to societal inequity for students.

While the policy represents the accomplishment of a goal that has been in place for more than a year, board members and the school district superintendent were adamant the policy is only the beginning of the necessary work to come. The policy states that the superintendent will be responsible for “developing procedures and practices that seek to eliminate barriers and ensure racial equity.”

“What matters is not what we say, but what we do,” board member Dan Chasan said after the policy was unanimously approved.

When asked by board member Bob Hennessey what the next steps are, Vashon Island School District Superintendent Michael Soltman said “deep, intentional conversation” will be crucial.

“It’s not simple,” he said. “(This policy is) the driving force that keeps the conversation going, but I can’t predict where it’s going to go.”

In May 2016, the district met with nearly two dozen community members and members of the Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD) and announced it would draft a plan to address racial equity. That plan was approved in May, almost exactly one year later, and called for the creation of a policy, amending the strategic plan to include racial equity strategies, implementing racial equity training for district staff and creating a strategy to recruit board, staff and students of color.

Hennessey and board chair Steve Ellison apologized for the delays Thursday, and Ellison acknowledged the district needs to do more not only about racial equity, but bullying as well.

“I want to apologize to the students,” he said. “We’ve been talking for two years and I’m glad to see it’s getting adopted.”

More in News

Ferry meeting regarding draft long-range plan tonight

Washington State Ferries will host a meeting on Vashon this evening about… Continue reading

Ceremony will open new athletic field Friday night

Months after work began to replace the Vashon High School athletic field… Continue reading

Kennedy sentenced for involvement in fatal 2017 crash

Professional skateboarder Cory Kennedy, 27, has been sentenced to 48 months in… Continue reading

Overnight fire claims two homes on the west side

An early morning fire on Tuesday claimed two waterfront homes on the… Continue reading

Burton Community Church celebrates its 125th anniversary

The Burton Community Church is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, and… Continue reading

County restores shorelines to health

To protect the many species which depend on the vital health of… Continue reading

New film fest aims to open hearts, minds

This Friday night, the big screen at Vashon Theatre will light up… Continue reading

Time & Again: One woman’s story helps tell the island’s history

Katharine Golding is renowned for letting people know that there are 37… Continue reading

Water District 19 seeks new commissioner

Water District 19, which services the center and east side of Vashon… Continue reading

Most Read