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Park City Board of Education delays vote on equity policy until June

Many different paper human figures on light blue background, flat lay. Diversity and inclusion concept
Olga Yastremska, New Africa, Afr/New Africa - stock.adobe.com
About a third of people giving feedback on the policy have expressed disapproval.

The Park City School District Board of Education is making final changes to a new educational equity policy, and will likely take a vote on whether to adopt it next month.

Policy 1006 states that the school district will incorporate equity within all of its programs, operations, and resource allocations.

The policy defines educational equity as providing equal opportunities based upon the needs of each individual student.

The school board has hosted multiple feedback sessions, in which community members were encouraged to share their opinions about the proposed policy.

The board is now in the process of finalizing it, making slight changes.

Board president Andrew Caplan said some of the adjustments were for legal reasons.

“There’s a lot of legislation in the state with regards to equity and what’s allowed and what’s not,” Caplan said. “There were suggestions made by the committee, some of which need to be tweaked to be in compliance with the law, whether that’s around hiring practices, whether that’s around ever-changing state legislation. And so we need to be cognizant of that, as well as some of the bills that are coming in the next legislative session that we’re aware of.”

Caplan said they also want to be sensitive to members of the community that have criticized the policy.

Between emails to the board and public comment, he said about a third of people giving feedback on the policy have expressed disapproval.

“I think when we’re looking at something as sensitive as equity, and we’re trying to be inclusive – in a policy that creates inclusion – it would be a little bit hypocritical to say a third of our community wants to see changes and not make those changes effective, or try to incorporate their ideas into the final product," he said. "So that’s where we are, and we’re optimistic that we’ll be done by June.”

He emphasized the goal of the policy is to help all students reach their individual potential.

“It’s not robbing Peter to pay Paul," Caplan said. "It’s being cognizant that there are neurodiversity in our district, that there’s socioeconomic diversity, and different kids need different things.”

But Jonathan Mount, a Park City High alum and Middlebury College current student, told the board at its meeting Tuesday that the equity policy would create new barriers, and the district should focus on reaffirming its anti-bullying rules.

“Rather than granting opportunities, we are stripping them away,” Mount said. “Educational equity does not equate to educational success and lower standards are certainly not indicative of higher achievement. Beyond students, this policy advocates for equitable hiring practices which balance the workforce to reflect the diversity of the student body. However, we should be hiring teachers based on qualifications, not on race, gender, or sexuality.”

Allyson McGuire, speaking on behalf of parents in support of the policy, said the board shouldn’t wait any longer to adopt the new code.

Pinebrook resident Lisa Wall said she believes the policy has a hidden agenda, and that it will erode merit.

New edits include the removal of a provision that said the district would work “to balance the workforce to reflect the diversity of the student body.”

Rebeca Gonzalez, a teacher at Ecker Hill Middle School who also helps lead the district’s Latinos In Action program, told the board that hiring diverse staff is important.

“I did not have a teacher of color in my school, and that affected me, because there wasn’t much talk about equity when I was a student," Gonzalez said. "And this policy would have changed my life. It would have helped me feel like I belonged.” 

The school board is scheduled to meet on June 20.