Parents, students, staff and community members will meet monthly to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion

MUSICKTwenty-two people have been named to the Lake Oswego School District's new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Committee members, who were appointed by the School Board in June, include students, staff, teachers, parents and community members. Together, they are charged with working together to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues — the first priority in the district's strategic plan.

The members are: Siri Anderson (LOJ parent), Brian Bills (Forest Hills parent) , Shalini Broderick (Forest Hills parent), Gloria Brown (LOHS parent), Emma Burke (Oak Creek parent), Ebony Clarke (Hallinan parent), Julie Davis (LOSD employee), Manny Espinoza (Westridge parent), Shava Feinstein (Hallinan/LJH parent), Mya Gordon (Lakeridge student) and Neelam Gupta (Forest Hills parent).

Also: Sukhwant Jhaj (Westridge/LJH/Lakeridge parent), Kathy Lloyd (LOSD employee), Paul Miller (Forest Hills parent), Anushka Nair (LOHS student), Charu Nair (LOHS parent), Becky Owens (LOJ/LOHS parent), Mary Petrides (River Grove/LJH parent), Willie Poinsette (community member and Respond to Racism co-founder), Paula Posadas (LOJ/LOHS parent), Carrie Rodriguez (Lake Grove parent) and Christine Thomas (LOSD employee).

Ninety-one applications were received by the board; that list was then narrowed by a subcommittee consisting of board Chair John Wallin, board member Rob Wagner, interim Superintendent Mike Musick, and David Salerno Owens, the LOSD's director of diversity and strategic initiatives.

Wagner told the board that the selection process was not easy, given the volume and quality of the applicants.

"Having 91 applications spread out over my table" and having to go through and select only 22 people who can "work together toward taking us into that next conversation as we move forward with our strategic plan was really tough," Wagner said.

In the selection process, he said, the subcommittee considered a variety of factors.

"We tried to reflect the variety of experiences that everyone brought into the space, and their passion coming into this work as well as their professionalism," Wagner said. "We tried to get the geography. We have every school area represented here, which I think is really great."

Musick said the amount of applicants made him very hopeful about the future of diversity, equity and inclusion in the school district.

"I appreciate the volume and the number of people that care so deeply about this," he said. "We've got work to do, and we have people that want to do the work. I think that's the critical component to this."

The committee will examine the district's strategic plan and identify places for improvement. The specific areas they will address include data and best practices from peer districts; an audit of district policies through an equity lens; best practices for embedding equity into curriculum and practice; how to highlight and award community members, students or staff who are doing exceptional work in these efforts; how to provide engaging partnerships with the community; and how to assess and develop strategies for staff hiring through an equity lens.

The committee will meet once a month and will work in concert with the district's Equity Team to develop a five-year "Equity Plan" for local schools.

Wagner said he hopes to involve the applicants who were not selected for the committee in the broader conversation.

"I think perhaps the most important thing is what's not reflected in the committee. We have nearly 70 additional people who want to be engaged in the conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion in our community," Wagner said. "We're going to be reaching out to everyone and finding incredibly valuable ways for people to participate at the school level."

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Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Claire Holley at 503-479-2381 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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