The South Portland School Department is planning to release a long-awaited equity report in mid-April and will use the recommendations in the report as a basis for future diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

The report was prepared by the Center for Education Equity at the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium and is based on focus groups conducted at South Portland High School with students, parents and staff last year.

It comes as some families have asked for more urgency and opportunities for involvement in the district’s equity work and after a high school student filed a complaint last year regarding a teacher’s use of a racial slur in a classroom. The student, Traci Francis, and her mother said not enough was done to hold the teacher accountable and they were unhappy with the district’s response.

South Portland has been working with the consortium since the spring of 2019 and had been hoping to receive the report earlier but ran into delays after COVID-19 hit shortly after the focus groups were conducted, Superintendent Ken Kunin said Monday. The plan is now to release the report at the April 14 school board meeting, at which the board will vote whether to accept the report and there will be discussion of next steps. Kunin said the district is also considering holding community forums for input following the meeting.

The report is not a full equity audit but it will provide recommendations for how to address existing inequities and incorporate them into a strategic plan for moving forward. Daryl Williams, senior education equity specialist for the Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, said typically the group will work with a school district for two to three years on action steps, community engagement, reviews of board policies and curriculum and other initiatives.

“Reports like this are really about listening to student voices,” Kunin said. “We know we will hear some things that are uncomfortable but unless we’re willing to listen through that discomfort, we know we will not make progress.”


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