- Wallingford-Swarthmore School District
- Latest Updates & Meeting Notes
May 26, 2021 Meeting Notes
Please see the notes from the May 26th meeting here.
January 13, 2021 Meeting Notes
Please see the January 13th meeting notes here.
November 18, 2020 Meeting Notes
Please see the meeting notes from November 18th here.
October 27, 2020 Meeting Notes
Please download the meeting minutes here.
Message to the Community - September 29, 2020
September 29, 2020
Dear WSSD Community,
Since the school year began, there have been several situations in which WSSD students have used racist and homophobic language or made other hateful remarks while engaged in remote learning. The last such instance occurred a week ago on Friday.
On each occasion, the school addressed the actions of the students immediately and, per District procedure, issued the appropriate discipline. In addition, school officials communicated with students and families who were directly affected by these actions. With regard to last week’s incident, the teacher addressed the situation immediately. The principal also addressed the incident in e-mails to parents, and by taking part in a follow-up discussion with students the next school day.
Let me be very clear: racism and hate have no place in our schools. Behavior of this type is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our school system. WSSD is fully committed to providing a respectful and safe learning environment. Our District stands for respect and inclusion and being a place where all are welcomed, whether they are in our buildings or learning remotely.
Ours is also a District rightly focused on transparency and seeking to engage parents, guardians, and community members as honestly and completely as we can. With that, I must note that we have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect our students, including those who were involved in the incidents described. Therefore, while we are committed to transparency and engagement, we cannot share details about specific incidents or outcomes.
We know this will cause frustration. We ask for your understanding as we seek to provide as much information as we can while also meeting our responsibility to protect students, including maintaining their confidentiality, even in light of hateful behavior.
As we move forward as a District, we remain fully committed to addressing school climate and culture with respect to racism, homophobia, and all forms of hate. We want to ensure that culturally responsive conversations will be a part of every classroom environment.
Toward that end, the focus of teacher and staff development this year is to build the capability to take an anti-bias approach and encourage students to challenge prejudice while learning how to be agents of change.
We have established a Community-Wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Committee composed of a diverse group of parents, educators, and students to help and guide our work, and to help us partner with the broader WSSD community. We encourage you to visit the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page on our District website, located under the About WSSD section of the WSSD website, for continued updates on our work.
As always, we thank you for your support of WSSD and the students and families we serve.
Lisa Palmer, Superintendent of Schools
Message to the Community - September 8, 2020On September 3, instruction at Strath Haven High School was interrupted on three separate occasions by outbursts containing homophobic and racial slurs. It is believed that all three incidents were perpetrated by Wallingford-Swarthmore students. The Wallingford-Swarthmore School District (WSSD) and Board of Directors condemn these hateful acts. Racism and hate have no place in our schools or in our society. We will not tolerate the use of homophobic or racial slurs by students or anyone affiliated with our district. Investigations are underway of each incident and disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with district policy.WSSD has made a firm commitment to addressing school climate with respect to racism, homophobia and all forms of hate. The following actions are currently underway to address school climate:
The District contracted with the Southern Poverty Law Center to bring its Teaching Tolerance program to our schools. This is a systematic training program that emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. Training for teachers and administrators began in August and will continue throughout the 2020-21 school year.
We are assessing and expanding the diversity of our classroom libraries. This is a continuation of work that began in the prior school year.
We are completing a comprehensive review of our History curriculum to ensure that all of our history is represented and that anti-bias education and social justice are incorporated into the educational experience
We have initiated discussions with the NAACP Media Chapter and the Anti-Defamation League to engage in various school and community conversations and initiatives.
Board DEI Subcommittee and Community-Wide DEI Action Committee:
The Board formed a DEI Subcommittee to guide and oversee the District's work to address diversity, equity and inclusion. We also established a Community-Wide DEI Action Committee to inform and guide our work, and to help us partner with the broader WSSD community.
District Equity Audit:
We are in the early stages of planning for a District-wide equity audit to be led by an external contractor. Efforts are underway to identify potential contractors and establish a timeframe for beginning audit work.We shared the information about the incidents that occurred on September 3 with Strath Haven High School students, families, and staff. We are informing the broader WSSD community because we also need your help. Hateful and racist actions that occur within the context of our learning environment are a mirror of what is taking place in our communities. Opportunities for establishing a broader community partnership to end racism and hate in our schools and our community will be discussed at the September 16 meeting of the WSSD Community-Wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Action Committee.Lisa PalmerSuperintendent of Schools
September 16, 2020 Meeting Notes
September 16th Meeting Notes
(Download PDF here)
1. Welcome - Kelly Wachtman
2. Dr. Greg Hilden, principal of SHHS to address recent incidents during remote instruction
- Targeted incidents to a particular group
- General feeling of mistrust
- Hard to determine in each instance who the perpetrator was
- Wounded community because of lack of closure due to privacy issues
- Issues will not be swept under the rug, he is being proactive and is looking for ways of engaging in these conversations to ultimately change
Discussion Comments by Committee- (overall summary of questions/concerns)
- How to effectively communicate these issues to the community to avoid "whisper down the lane"
- Need for a proactive approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion issues to develop a culture of acceptance
- Broader perspective: culture where staff members are vested in efforts to learn skills on how to have the hard conversations around race, would like more representation from secondary teachers Suggested action steps discussed By Committee:
- All classrooms adopt a teaching tolerance approach, share identity lessons, use the teachings and lessons from: Being The Change, by Sara K. Ahmed. Jennifer Kennedy sent a proposal to Dr. Palmer and Dr. Palmer will look into it
- Adopt and publicize our committee and our work, adopt and publicize our mission/values, have it written in our hallways, on social media, on contract for students, on our ID badges, read it and believe it and live it.
- Provide a public school education where every individual is encouraged to share their story. A place where you feel comfortable and safe and are treated with respect.
- Resource: Bettinalove.com "We Want To Do More Than Survive"
- Resource: "Not Light But Fire, by Matthew Kaye"
- Community Town Hall Meeting - allow community members to speak
- Dr. Palmer suggested having Joan Duvall Flynn, president of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference of Branches, lead this discussion
3. Action Sub-Committee Group Reports
SUB-COMMITTEE: Advancing Diversity in Hiring:
- Broaden Recruiting of Teachers (Temple, Delaware, Delaware State, HBCUs from Pennsylvania to Delaware)
- Add Equity questions to interviews (NOTE: The District already does this.)
- Include different lenses
- Commit to recruitment that mirrors student diversity
- Consider hiring a consultant to suggest additional strategies
- Partner with DVCEE, utilize their listserve, and attend their recruitment fair (NOTE: The District already does this.)
SUB-COMMITTEE: Incorporate Diversity at all levels K-12:
- The work of this sub-committee is to find creative and innovative ways of incorporating Diversity at all levels in our school district. The School District has committed to professional development through Teaching Tolerance as a means of engaging all staff members and administrators in ongoing conversations on issues pertaining to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through the social justice standards. It is therefore a natural next step to align the work of this sub-committee to the tenets of Teaching Tolerance.
- One avenue to explore is to identify themes related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and to assign one to every month so we can plan activities (field trips, guest authors, assemblies) reflective of these themes in our buildings.
- Another aspect to consider is to make these activities happen in a virtual model and in a hybrid model
- NOTE: An expanded example is included in the WSSD DEI Action Committee Folder and also on WSSD Website/Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Webpage.
SUB-COMMITTEE: Communications and Engagement:
- Faster Broader communications of all DEI Actions and Issues
- Communicate Committee Minutes on WSSD Website and Social media.
- Communicate out information about DEI committee (members, subgroups, district DEI webpage and how to access, how to contact us with questions / ideas)
- Create survey to send out to community to ask community members what questions / suggestions they have
- Create a "DEI hub" on our DEI webpage with resources for our families, students, staff, and community members
- Create communication plan for how we will share out 20-21 equity data over email, on social media, on DEI hub
- Create a plan for community meetings hosted by community members along with the district and sponsored by this committee WSSD Community Wide DEI Action Committee 9-16-20 Meeting Notes
- NOTE: Expanded information is included in the WSSD DEI Action Committee Folder.
4. Follow-Up and Next Steps:
- Next Meeting Tuesday October 6: o Schedule training "Equity and Inclusion" with Dr. Heather Bennett from PSBA.
- On future meeting: Guest Speaker Bob Jarvis (Equity Audit)
- Individual input regarding posting DEI Committee membership in WSSD Website.
- Final opportunity to review DEI Action Committee Mission Statement (posted on Google Drive and shown below
Great reminder during this difficult time Jerry BaIlas, "We are on a path to change the culture!"
WSSD Community Wide DEI Action Committee Mission Statement
Build and nurture a culture in the WSSD Community that develops a deeper understanding for each person being unique and recognizes and values Diversity and individual differences.
Work to build Equity throughout the WSSD community that ensures all students are provided with what is needed (e.g., opportunity, access, resources and support) on order to grow and achieve their full potential.
Ensure that everyone is uniquely valued and appreciated with respect to their social identity (including race, ethnicity, gender identity and expression, ability status, religion & cultural beliefs, nationality, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation), and is respected and appreciated as a valuable member of the WSSD Community.
Diversity Inclusion and Equity committee Sub-committee:
Incorporate Diversity at all levels K-12
The work of this sub-committee is to find creative and innovative ways of incorporating Diversity at all levels in our school district. The school district has committed to professional development through Teaching Tolerance as a means of engaging all staff members and administrators in ongoing conversations on issues pertaining to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion through the social justice standards. It is therefore a natural next step to align the work of this sub-committee to the tenets of Teaching Tolerance. One avenue to explore is to identify themes related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and to assign one to every month so we can plan activities (field trips, guest authors, assemblies) reflective of these themes in our buildings. Another aspect to consider is to make these activities happen in a virtual model and in a hybrid model.
- We can identify a theme for each month (aligned to Teaching Tolerance) and make suggestions of activities, events, field trips, assemblies, guest authors etc that can be planned for students that reflect the monthly themes.
- Activities and/or events can be during school hours or can be district events open to students, staff, families and community members.
- We will identify the timeline and who will be involved in putting together the event or activities.
- Our current reality demands that we talk about what activities or events will look like in the full Online model and in the Cohort model.
- We can tailor this chart to our needs to meet our outcomes.
July 22, 2020 Meeting Summary
The DEI Action Committee held its first meeting on Wednesday July 22. The diverse, 37-member committee spent most of the meeting getting to know each other and sharing their concerns. They learned about each other's identities, families, careers, frustrations, and motivations. This building of connection and trust is essential given some of the sensitive, yet crucial topics that they will be tackling. They have a created a draft mission statement that will be fleshed out and translated into specific, actionable goals for the committee to undertake this upcoming school year.
On June 22, the Board approved a contract for the Southern Poverty Law Center to bring its Teaching Tolerance program to our schools. This is a systematic training program that emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. Teaching Tolerance encourages staff and students to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives and in the school community. Visit tolerance.org to learn more.
WSSD staff will participate in required professional development throughout the 2020-2021 school year as part of the Teaching Tolerance program. The first professional development session took place on August 21. Please click here for an overview of all planned trainings.
Pennsylvania School Board Association
The Board DEI Subcommittee and Superintendent Lisa Palmer met with Dr. Heather Bennett, Director of School Equity Services, from the Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) on July 6 to discuss recommendations for school districts as they establish DEI goals, strategies, and committees. The PSBA has consolidated best practices and developed toolkits, education and training, and other resources to support school districts seeking to implement strategies and action plans to address DEI goals. The Subcommittee will continue to collaborate with PSBA to inform the work of the Board DEI Subcommittee and the Community-Wide DEI Action Committee.