Board Briefs: June 25, 2020

Trustees met for a Special Meeting to discuss equity and diversity action steps to address discrimination and racism; an update on plans for starting school in the 2020-21 school year; and the annual evaluation of Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D. 

View the Board meeting on YouTube here. Review the agenda packet here.

Equity and diversity conversation continues

Trustees picked up the conversation that has been occurring in Leander ISD for two years regarding addressing issues of equity and diversity. 

The conversation came after the June 11 report from two university professors and researchers, who led a community survey and town hall meetings to captures stories of discrimination, racism, and cultural responsiveness. 

“We are listening,” said Board Secretary Elexis Grimes in response to students, parents, and teachers who have spoken during citizen comments about their experiences with racism and discrimination. “We are hearing your stories. We see the pain. We serve because we love all 42,000 students and this breaks our heart.”

Trustees discussed engaging more community members in conversations about equity, implementing training districtwide, conducting an equity audit or assessment, creating hiring practices to increase diversity within staff members, and staffing an equity position or leads within existing departments. 

Assistant Superintendent for Pathways and Innovation Chrysta Carlin recapped the action steps LISD has taken to address racism over the past two years, including the formation of an equity task force, training opportunities for teachers and administrators, and book adoption processes for all grade levels to include a diverse selection of materials to represent students. The Board has also approved a high school course titled American Experience, which engages students in the examination of American history through varying perspectives focusing on contributions and experiences of different cultural groups.

The Board will continue the conversation regarding action steps in their July meetings.

Graduation will limit attendees, celebrate graduates with households to walk the stage at Gupton

With graduation dates coming soon, we would like to provide our graduates and families an update regarding our ceremonies. We wish we could be together, celebrating as normally as possible. Health and safety continue to be our top priorities.

Due to the recent guidance by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, we will need to limit attendance to our ceremonies to 100 people or less. As a result, we will be hosting a ceremony where graduates will:

  • celebrate with their families,
  • receive a diploma, and
  • walk the stage at Gupton Stadium.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to celebrate with the entire class of 2020 together.

We will have details in the coming week regarding logistics and timing for each graduate to walk the stage safely and with their household’s family members. 

Please expect the celebration for your graduate to be on the same date and within or close to the window of time previously communicated for his or her ceremony.

District shares information from TEA, next steps for opening 2020-21 school year

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) has presented more details and guidance to school districts for the 2020-21 school year, including a funding formula for virtual learning, the continuation of the 90% attendance rule, and the re-launching of STAAR testing. 

LISD is continuing to explore options for parents and schools, including a Virtual Empowered Learning option (where students learn at home both live with teachers and in self-paced lessons), a blended option (students go to school part of the week and work at home the other part) and entirely in school buildings. 

“The strength of Leander ISD is found from our community coming together in this challenging time,” Board President Trish Bode said. “Input is vital from our Leander ISD family as the district navigates the changing landscape. While the public health crisis continues to be ever-changing, our focus remains to provide a safe and excellent learning environment for our students.” 

The district is preparing a survey for parents in the coming days and for staff in early July. 

TEA will release more details to districts on July 2. The district expects to make a detailed recommendation regarding our opening plans on July 17.