Equity

How can Spokane Schools recruit, hire and retain and more diverse workforce?

While there is a lot of research into the benefits of a diverse workforce and identifying many of the barriers, there’s still a lack of meaningful research into how to best overcome those barriers. Spokane Schools can look for more ways to help a greater diversity of people in our community to overcome the obstacles they face in becoming a teacher or leader in the district. Ensuring a good work environment, compensation, and support will help the district retain that staff.

Despite the best efforts of Spokane School District administrators, students of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by discipline rates and arrests in our local schools. What does SPS need to do that it is not currently doing to address this issue?

More African American staff in leadership and teaching positions is the foundation that will help the district better address the challenges affecting African American students’ success. I know this has been a goal of the district for a while, but it may be time to consider taking more proactive approaches like helping to create more opportunities African Americans and persons of color in our community to achieve the secondary education needed to fill these positions in the district and investing more resources in expanding the reach of Job Openings into our District’s communities of color when they come available.

Is the District’s policy regarding discipline of students fair? Does the District administer student discipline fairly and appropriately?

The district has been working hard to improve the discipline policy and the equity of how it is applied. They are likely to approve revisions to the discipline policy in upcoming meetings and I appreciate their focus on restorative discipline and behavioral interventions. Unfortunately, the challenge to effective discipline policies is ensuring each school has enough staffing, physical space, and tools to actually apply the policies well. I believe all schools and staff try to administer discipline fairly and appropriately, but are often lacking in the staffing and resources to meet the needs of students.

What issues, if any, do you believe exist in the special education program in SPS? How would you address them as a board member?

I have concerns about the use of isolations rooms with our special education students and what effect the recent reductions in staffing might have on the quality of our Special Education services. In addition, many parents find that there is a hole in the resources available for students who are struggling, but may not qualify for Special Ed services. There is a lot of middle ground between zero problems in the classroom and needing Special Ed placement or services. I’d like to make sure that support resources are available for all students and meets them at their level.

Behavioral Intervention services should be more readily available at every school.

Behavioral Intervention (BI) classroom massively improved my daughters experience at school and helped me succeed as a working parent by ending the constant Suspensions from school. It took entirely too long to get those services because the aren’t available at every school and requires us to transfer. I’d like to see every school in the district have a Behavioral Intervention Classroom and services available so struggling students can get the help they need early when the need arises and reduce the impact on families who currently would have to transfer to receive those services.

Should prayer be limited in school activities? Why?

Prayer is often a silent and invisible action, so I’m not sure it’s truly possible to prevent students or staff from engaging in prayer. I believe public schools are for all of our students, regardless of their faith, and they shouldn’t be discouraged from expressing their faith through prayer as long as it isn’t disruptive to the classroom and learning environment.

When should prayer be limited in public?

Again, as long as it isn’t disruptive, it shouldn’t be limited. I do however think it’s best if the permits process is followed by large groups to ensure appropriate safety measures are taken by the community as is usually required for large gatherings.

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