In an update to the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees on Thursday, Racial Equity Office Deputy Chief Leslie Williams and his staff identified several areas where REO efforts positively impacted Dallas ISD’s culture during the 2019-2020 school year.
Success of ethnic-studies courses
More Dallas ISD high school students participated in African-American Studies and Mexican-American Studies courses, as compared to the previous year.
African-American Studies enrollment increased from 350 to 1,170 from the fall of 2019 to the fall of 2020. Mexican-American Studies courses also saw a noticeable spike during the same time period, from 537 to 2,059 students, according to REO’s report.
Additionally, 34 Dallas ISD high schools will offer both African-American Studies and Mexican American-Studies next year, up from 14 campuses last year.
Magnet School Application Initiative
Increasing magnet school applications is another critical effort to insure equity across the district. The Department of Centralized Enrollment and Magnet Programs along with REO recruited and trained mentors to host recruitment workshops in neighborhoods with low magnet school enrollment.
“We secured mentors to work with our parents to help them navigate the magnet school application process,” Williams said. “We sent out 1,200 letters to parents; did neighborhood visits; and hosted workshops in five public libraries.”
Partnership to decrease out-of-school suspensions
Another positive outcome this year can be seen in the decreased number of out-of-school suspensions.
REO presented a chart comparing out-of-school suspensions during the 2019-2020 school year to the two previous years. All four student groups (African-American, Hispanic, White & Other, and English Learners) had the lowest number of out-of-school suspensions in 2019-20, compared to the previous two years.
“School leadership had a number of policies and strategies that they used, like five-or-six week discipline summaries that were distributed to the principals, deputy chiefs and executive directors, and we had members from different departments who worked with principals and ED’s so that we could reduce the number of out-of-school suspensions,” Williams said.
Workplace and Workforce Culture
REO also created a professional development plan in partnership with School Leadership, Teaching and Learning, Professional and Digital Learning and the Cultural Intelligence Center.
The purpose is to develop Dallas ISD teachers, staff and leaders’ capability in terms of working with diverse families and populations.
During the 2019-2020 school year, REO hosted two comprehensive in-house, certification training sessions led by the Cultural Intelligence Center. As a result, they have 40 trainers who will serve as facilitators for cultural intelligence training. REO plans to train 60 facilitators who will host training sessions throughout the school year.
Schools earn No Place for Hate designation
Students at 18 Dallas ISD schools completed the Anti-Defamation Leagues’ No Place for Hate Program, an initiative geared toward preventing, recognizing and responding to bullying and bias practices.
The program is a school climate improvement framework that provides schools with an organizational framework for combating bias, bullying and hatred, which leads to long-term solutions to foster and maintain a supportive environment. The committee organizes three schoolwide activities and hosts them throughout the year. Schools are encouraged to be creative and unique in their mission-driven activities.
For a full list, visit the Anti-Defamation League website: https://dallas.adl.org/npfh/