PADC statement at April 28 School Board meeting

Thank you for the time to speak. My name is Sheila Leunig, and I am the co-President of the Piedmont Anti-Racism & Diversity Committee. Over the past year, the Piedmont community, including our city, schools, and police department, have delved deeper into how to address the complicated issues of race and class that have existed here in Piedmont since its inception, and which have shaped our nation’s history for centuries.

One of PADC’s primary goals is to support the Piedmont community as it engages in this work. In line with that goal, we’ve partnered with Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) to develop and implement its racial equity resolution and its a racial equity policy. We believe that our community needs to be centered in everything we do, and as such, we support the Piedmont school district’s efforts to execute its commitments as laid out in the Racial Equity Policy, which expressly prioritizes creating and maintaining an inclusive and welcoming environment
for all students, staff, and their families.

Recent events though have highlighted the very real challenges that the district faces to meaningfully and effectively implement the Racial Equity Policy. We encourage district leaders and the school board to take this moment to consider how well positioned the district is, right now, to successfully execute on its commitments in the policy? We believe the district needs to prioritize the following in order to achieve its stated policy
goals:

Prioritize recruitment and hiring for diverse leaders with deep experience in racial equity work who are then welcomed into leadership circles to support the use a racial equity lens in all district decision making;

Prioritize a comprehensive anti-racist training program for students, teachers, administrators, the School Board, and district families that is engaged in on a regular basis throughout the school year; (We need to develop a fundamental and universal understanding of what it means to be anti-racist, and to normalize the use of relevant language and concepts.)

Lastly, but certainly not least, the district needs to prioritize its financial investment in support of the successful execution of the policy initiatives. Without adequate funding these efforts are doomed to fail. Initial investment needs to focus on a full time Dir of DEI position, anti-racism training for all in the district, and expenses related to an expert to review and revise current district recruiting and hiring policies and practices, with the goal of bringing more diverse perspectives into the work.

Thank you for your continued commitment to this important work

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