Findings on diversity, equity and inclusion at OPS presented; district taking action

May 14, 2021 | 12:15 am

Updated May 14, 2021 | 12:36 am

Graphic by Owensboro Times

In a study done for Owensboro Public Schools, key findings included insufficient discussion of diversity and bias; inequity based on socioeconomic status gender disparities and harassment; barriers to communication; and a need for professional equity-related training. 

Hanover Research was hired to gather perceptions on the current state of diversity, equity and inclusion districtwide at OPS. 

District officials have already taken roughly 10 actions toward addressing the issues. OPS formed an Equity Task Force to address issues internally, and they have partnered externally with community agencies such as the Owensboro Chapter of the NAACP and the H.L. Neblett Community Center.

Hanover Research completed two studies using responses from students, parents and staff — a diagnostic survey that garnered 2,153 responses (more than half coming from students), as well as five focus groups (two for students, two for parents, one for administrators).

Findings presented Thursday were divided into six categories: Curriculum and Instruction; Class and Racial Disparities; Gender Disparities; Parent Communication; Staff Diversity; and Staff Resources and Training.

The full findings, as well as the steps taken by OPS so far to address issues, can be found below.

Curriculum and Instruction

Class and Racial Disparities

Gender Disparities

Parent Communication

Staff Diversity

Staff Resources and Training

Steps taken by OPS

OPS Superintendent Matthew Constant said when they first started this work nearly a year ago, there were several things that were clear the district needed to incorporate in order to successfully achieve their goals. He identified a number of actions the district has already taken in order to address these findings. They have also started analyzing next steps toward addressing many other areas of need identified by Hanover Research. 

Constant told the Board of Education they had taken the following actions:

1) As a board, you identified the need for focus on addressing the inequities in our minority population, and we’ve been able to hire David Phillips as the new DEI Director. 

2) We hired a new EL Student Services Coordinator in Ashlie Hurley who will better ensure our communication to families is translated to a number of languages representing our students. 

3) Already in the process of revamping our district website and communication methods to better reach our families, that includes the ability to easily translate to other languages. 

4) Applying for a KDE grant that will help us fund a “Grow-Your-Own” initiative to target students of color who may want to teach someday. Kentucky Wesleyan College has agreed to be our partner in this work. 

5) Sent a memo to all classified staff (where majority of our minority staff members are) with information on how to become a certified teacher through alternative certification. 

6) Partnered with Owensboro Community and Technical College and the Owensboro Black Expo to identify a cohort of juniors and seniors of color to focus on college readiness skills.

7) Participating in the Young Foundation’s work that will hopefully shed a community light on these issues with businesses and other educational entities. 

8) Started networking our DEI director with others in the same position at Kentucky Wesleyan College, Owensboro Community and Technical College, and Daviess County Public Schools. 

9) Joining forces with businesses to publicly support making Owensboro a welcoming community through a full-page ad in Messenger-Inquirer. According to local economic development leaders, this step is crucial to recruiting employees and families to our community, thus creating a more diverse community. 

10) All schools are receiving training in cultural responsiveness, trauma informed care, and youth mental health first aid. While this training is required every year, our district will be incorporating additional information that will put more of a focus on the diverse populations we serve. 

May 14, 2021 | 12:15 am

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