Laura Horwitz 0

Clayton School District Must Implement an Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism Plan for 2020-2021

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We, the undersigned parents, students, and community members, are disheartened by persistent instances of racism in the School District of Clayton. Committees have been formed (like the Equity and Excellence Committee); yet, their recommendations were not put into practice. Members of our community have worked on committees, spoken at School Board meetings, helped to develop specific recommendations, met individually with district leaders, shared stories of harm, and pleaded for anti-racist change. In every instance, district engagement has ended at listening and earnestly professing good intentions. Many of the recommendations in this petition, are, in fact, mirrored right now on the District’s own website; they simply have not been implemented. This is the power of conditioning, of a system preserving itself through an interlocking web of habits and fears that prevent change.

We are at a crossroads, and the time for talk, good intentions, and small changes has long passed. Therefore, knowing that the District has already gathered the data, has already analyzed and listened, has already requested and been granted our patience, and has in hand clear and specific suggestions for action, we insist that concrete change begin immediately. We plan to support these efforts in ongoing commitment to anti-racist practice in our homes and community.

Specifically, we request immediate action be taken toward implementation of a Clayton Anti- Bias, Anti-Racism (ABAR) plan: A plan that uses anti-bias, anti-racism best practices and that explicitly outlines SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) changes in Curriculum, Culture, and Communication, with the goal of creating an intentionally anti-racist school district.

To be effective, the proposed Clayton ABAR plan must:

  • Be developed by 1 September 2020 for implementation during the 2020/2021 school year.
  • Be included in the District’s Strategic Plan, and include year-end goals along with 5-year goals for the stated areas: curriculum, culture, and communication.
  • Dedicate financial resources toward implementation.
  • Include an update of the District’s Equity and Excellence website per the recommendations of the Equity and Excellence committee in 2017.

***Curriculum: The ABAR plan must specify:

  • A cycle of reviews of bias, to ensure that curriculum and core texts include history and perspectives of Black people as well as the creation of whiteness.
  • ABAR learning for all students, from Pre-K to 12.
  • Goals for enhanced access of Black students to gifted and advanced courses.
  • Alternatives to gatekeeping and tracking in math, literacy, and gifted classes.

***Culture: The District must:

  • Define the culture Clayton wishes to have, including anti-racism, anti-bias in the definition.
  • Own and work to dismantle the systems of white privilege and white supremacy that set up barriers for Black students and staff.
  • Believe students and families who bring stories of harm.
  • Consolidate existing data and address each school’s particular issues with racism.
  • Implement steps toward reconciliation, including
    • Administrators, teachers and staff taking responsibility for harm to Black students
    • Opportunities for students and families that have been harmed to speak, be heard, and have their stories recorded; and
    • Restorative practices to heal the students and families that have been harmed.
  • Embed ABAR values in yearly expectations, professional development, and evaluation of all staff members, including repercussions for those who fail to meet expectations.
  • Create rules and practices that shield District employees who speak out about racism in schools.
  • Support the right and need for staff of color to meet in affinity groups and to share their experiences in a safe environment.
  • Apply recognized hiring practices that help reduce bias in the hiring process and preference candidates of color when all other qualifications are equal.
  • Update District rules and processes to reduce or eliminate bias.
  • Create a mechanism to both receive and document feedback from anyone in the District on race-related issues, and grievances. Publicly report only the aggregate data.
  • Define the process by which the District will respond when racist incidents occur.

***Communication: The District must report at least quarterly to the Board of Education and directly to the full community about progress on the Clayton ABAR plan, using accurate and specific data about all areas of the ABAR plan.

Radical transformation will require that parents and community members be part of this process. However, we expect that the District staff will do the work, which includes seeking out existing best practices, and implementing required changes.

Should the steps outlined above fail to occur by 1 July 2021, we demand that the Board of Education begin the process of conducting a search for new administrative leadership that is adept in the implementation of an ABAR culture. We must not only hold anti-racist, anti-bias values; we must act in accordance with those values for the good of our students and our community.


Laurie Anzilotti
Andrea Denny
Laura Horwitz
Lori Markson
Betsy Meyland-Smith
Becky Patel
Pam Washington
Suzanne Whitman

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