Carmel Clay Schools plans to soon hire its first diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, one of several steps district leaders say they are taking as part of a lengthy process to make its classrooms more welcoming for all students.
Administrators said the district has received more than 100 applications for the new role. The first round of interviews took place Nov. 11, with finalist interviews planned for Nov. 17. The school board is expected to vote on a recommended candidate this month or December, with a tentative start date of Jan. 4, 2021.
At a Nov. 9 school board meeting, school officials outlined steps they have taken in the last few years to increase their focus on diversity and inclusion.
Amy Dudley, CCS assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the topic became an increased focus during the 2016-17 school year when administrators studied a book called, “Leadership for Increasingly Diverse Schools.”
She said administrators began looking at demographic data for students and staff in areas that included achievement and discipline. They had begun digging into the data when the pandemic began, forcing them to turn their attention elsewhere for a time. But since the 2020-21 school year started, they have resumed efforts to address the issue.
CCS Director of Student Services David Woodward said that in November 2019, CCS administrators met with a group of eight parents from diverse backgrounds to gather their thoughts and opinions on their families’ experiences in the district. Woodward said that meeting made an impact.
“What was said to us was, ‘We’ve been here before in different areas. Don’t invite us in and have the conversation and then do nothing,’” Woodward said. “That stuck with us.”
Other steps to strengthen diversity in CCS includes Carmel Education Foundation grants for 10 educators to attend seminars addressing the issue. District officials also have attended a Racial Equity Institute through Indianapolis Public Schools, and a District Diversity Equity and Inclusion Planning Team has begun meeting to review and process data to inform districtwide initiatives.
Watch the school board meeting at youtube.com/watch?v=R_gLR1CRr44.