Richland Two School Board members aim to tackle challenges of equity with diversity task force

Officials with Richland School District Two seek to make diversity a priority next school year with the development of its Diversity Task Force.

The task force was formed during a superintendent’s retreat this summer and is made up of school administrators and community leaders. Katinia Davis, executive director of special services, said during Tuesday night’s school board meeting that the group plans to “create a living document of policies and practices as it relates to diversity.”

“This will probably be a year-long project to develop the actual plan,” Davis said.

The task force will use the district’s working policy of diversity, which is inclusive of race, ethnicity, language, gender, socioeconomic background, age, religion and learning abilities.

Parents along with representatives of Fort Jackson, South Carolina’s Department of Social Service and the University of South Carolina voiced concerns at the group’s first meeting Dec. 3 about access to magnet programs, minority teacher recruitment, equity in student discipline, parent outreach and district partnerships with local, small and minority businesses in the procurement process.

Davis said the team would hold another meeting in January to explore student and teacher demographics as well as to compile nationwide data about how other schools encourage diversity.

Chief Financial Officer Harry Miley said Tuesday that the district would need to reopen the process to find a procurement officer to work with local businesses after an offered made to an applicant was accepted then declined.

Board Chairman Chip Jackson asked the task force to focus on the national dialogue about race and how it impacts the students in the district.

“We will not miss an opportunity to pay real close attention nationally as it pertains to issue of black males,” he said.

Categories: Richland County