NP School District Strives for Racial Equality

During the next New Paltz Board of Education meeting for the New Paltz School District, Board members and New Paltz residents will discuss the necessity of a Racial Equity Committee. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb 21. 

The creation of the committee will require a positive vote from a majority of the Board of Education members. The discussion on Feb. 21 will be, “an open dialogue between the Board of Education and community members in attendance,” according to Michael O’Donnell, President of the New Paltz Board of Education.

The logistics of the committee are still to be detrmined; more comprehensive details will be discussed at the Feb. 21 meeting along with future meetings if necessary. 

When asked about what sparked the idea to create such a committee, President O’Donnell said “the concept of power-sharing is central to achieving equity.”

The school district has made strides in promoting racial equity in recent years. A particularly comprehensive initiative to finally promote and maintain racial equity was triggered in recent years. Several years ago, an incident involving the exchange of racial slurs between two students inspired a re-examination of the District’s commitment to racial equity. The District invited the U.S. Department of Justice to New Paltz, where they performed a two day exercise to determine whether the incident was isolated or more widespread. 

“The DOJ found that some students experienced issues related not only to race, but also socioeconomic status and, and to a lesser extent, religion,” the New Paltz School District’s website reads.

The District then focused its efforts on spreading awareness and information pertaining to racial equity. Thus, the Racial Equity Initiative came to be, and is part of the District’s “quest for cultural proficiency,” a concept laid out in Cultural Proficiency; A Manual for School Leaders, by Randall Lindsey, Kikanza Nuri-Robins, and Raymond D. Terrell.

In November 2016, “an Action Plan for Racial Equity and Creating a Culturally Proficient District was developed, providing a framework to identify the work needed,” according to the website.

 “The district has made racial equity a priority,” O’Donnell said of the district’s mission. 

The creation of a Racial Equity Committee could potentially contribute to the School District’s mission of promoting racial equity.