Model the leadership that they expect to see in the schools—we expect the leadership to always to remain professional as they engage each other’s diverse and complicated opinions on what is best for the schools.
It is important for the leadership to remember that all eyes are on them, and when they are disrespectful and work openly to erode each other’s integrity, it creates tension among the staff.
Hire and support teachers of color—data shows that students of color perform better when they have at least one teacher that looks like them. It has been part of OCS strategicplan for years to create a diverse work environment.
Yet we continue to hear excuse after excuse as to why this has not happened. It is puzzling how they can fulfill the mission of developing resourceful citizens prepared to engage in an ever-changing and diverse world when they have not been resourceful or creative enough to hire teachers representing this changing and diverse community.
Additionally, we want the leadership to re-commit to supporting and retaining the teachers of color that are currently working for OCS, and to train other staff of color currently employed to become certified as teachers, both through further education and mentoring.
Hire bi-lingual support staff to be available when needed to assist families who visit each school or service area—we know that our county is becoming more diverse. When families come into the schools, we want them to be welcomed and understood, ensuring that their requests or concerns are addressed.
Therefore, we are asking that additional bilingual staff members are available in each school that can assist families as the needs arise.
Build a safety plan where all staff know when to identify and evaluate a serious concern and when to notify parents—in an attempt to protect all staff, students, and visitors in the schools and service areas, we expect all staff to be adequately trained and routinely practice the safety plan to ensure that our children and families visiting the schools are kept safe.
Further, the plan should be reinforced by annual training and clearly state to staff and parents how and when parents and the community are to be notified.
Demonstrate a commitment to reducing all disparities—as the leadership develops policies and practices based on presentations from staff about a revised AIG program, the discipline data, the hiring of staff and various other programs or services, we expect them to use tools like “race forward” to ask questions that demonstrate that you are looking at all things through an equity lens.
Finally, it is because we too believe in the vision of Orange County Schools - which all students are to be creative, constructive thinkers who become healthy, productive and responsible members of our community and the world – that we expect the leadership to do better.
We expect and value robust debates, while being respectful of each other and seek to understand each other’s opinions. We also expect that from teachers, staff and School Board members who are representative of our communities. We expect that each person who walks through the school doors will be respected, valued, and understood.
We expect that students and staff are kept safe, and parents/families are promptly notified when there is a safety issue. We expect Orange County Schools to be a leader in the education and a place where we can proudly proclaim that we have made our first choice in our schools.
As a multiethnic group of concerned clergy, we will gladly assist wherever possible to help achieve these goals.
Rev. Phyllis Portie-Ascott
Rev. Norman Umstead
Rev. David Stanford
Rev. Althea Alton
Rev. William Richardson
Rev. Dr. Veronica Wright
If you live in Orange County and want to make your voice heard on something you care about locally, email firstname.lastname@example.org.