School board works to bring students, communities together
Unity was a common theme at the Sept. 11 West Linn-Wilsonville School District Board meeting. With the new school year kicking off, representatives from local high schools led with conversation about the success of the first weeks of school.
"It was one of the most seamless and flawless openings that I have ever experienced in the district," Director of Operations Tim Woodley said, despite all the construction happening in the district and the opening of new schools.
With sport games causing excitement and beginning of the year activities drawing students together, community members and the district want to make sure all schools are safe and welcoming.
In light of recent news that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be discontinued in the next six months if Congress doesn't act on it, the Oregon Department of Education sent out a press release stating that schools will be safe and welcoming regardless of national origin, immigration status or documentation status. And the WL-WV School District want to make sure they, too, ensure a non-discriminatory, safe school environment.
"It's important," Board Vice Chair Chelsea Martin said. "It's a discussion we are ready to have and have been having."
Cynthia Flannery and Marty Maharg, representing the West Linn Alliance for Inclusive Community, spoke about racism, hate, bigotry and other discrimination happening in the schools. They suggested the board make sure its policies run parallel with state resolution for safe and welcoming schools.
"I hope to see the school district take a more aggressive approach at promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in elementary and middle schools," West Linn resident William Cabine said, adding that his two young daughters experienced racism by third-grade. While he acknowledged the district has made steps toward this issue, he hopes more efforts will be made at an elementary school level. "(A) statement that stuck with me was 'Even though there are more students of color in schools, the same issues still exist.' I hope one day my children will be treated like everyone else's."
The board decided not to vote on strengthening relevant policies, but instead asked the Superintendent and staff to review the verbiage of the board's policies.
"I think enough has changed in the last 12 months that another review is warranted," board member Dylan Hydes said.