School Board adopts anti-racism policy

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The Natchitoches Parish School Board adopted an anti-racism policy at its meeting Thursday. Supervisor of Middle School Education Sarah Rachal headed the committee that met in June and in July conducted a survey of 270 employees and 102 stakeholders of parents, teachers, students and community members. Rachal said one theme emerged—-the need for a clear anti-racism statement. The committee of 18 began communicating their thoughts in person and through email to decide what the policy should say.

Supt. Grant Eloi said at the June meeting, the members “came well prepared and had passion” for their mission. Some 66 percent of the people surveyed cited the need for diversity training. Rachal said the group committed to enacting the policy, not just posting it and having nothing come of it.

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“It’s not just a statement,” she said. “Anti-racism is a verb and it requires action.” Eloi said it needed to be embedded and be a consistent long-term initiative. “It needs to be sustained and have more updates,” board president Billy Benefield said.

Board member Dorothy McGaskey said she wanted diversity training for new teachers and others new to the system saying some had never dealt with minority students. She also said the reality was that there are not enough minority teachers in the system. Rachal said the committee looked at other organizations working to develop such a policy.

One theme that continued to show itself was the release of a clear and actionable anti-racism statement. She said it needed to be a guidepost for equity and focus on racial equity at every level.

The policy is below.

“NPS reject all forms of racism as we commit to recognizing addressing and eradicating all measures that are not aligned with our mission, vision and goals. We stand ready to listen and take action.”