An altercation between community members occurred last Thursday during a Milton school board meeting on the proposed district equity policy.
The altercation occurred between two adults.
Community members turned out both in favor and in opposition to the policy, which board members will review again later this month.
The incident occurred outside of the Milton High School library after the public comment portion of the meeting. Police were called to the scene, but no arrests were made.
The Equity Policy
As part of an initiative to create a more inclusive environment at MTSD, the equity policy was created with input from community members, teachers, administrators and students.
The equity policy is an extensive plan that is designed to discover inequities within current programs and find solutions to them.
MTSD states on its website that the equity policy “aims to provide a common language, principles and direct expectations that anchor all dimensions of the district’s work toward achieving our Mission and Vision for student learning.”
The policy was drafted by the school board’s policy committee, in collaboration with MTSD leadership and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The policy work is spearheaded by Wilmer Charvarria, the district’s director of equity and education support systems.
For over a year now, the MTSD board of trustees’ policy committee has taken community input on the proposed policy through surveys, school board meetings and public forums.
Once the equity policy was determined to be ready for a vote, the first reading of the policy was put on the regular school board meeting agenda for May 11.
The first read of a policy is an opportunity for the full board to come together to ask questions and offer suggestions on the policy. If a policy is determined to need more work, it will go back to the committee for revisions.
“New policies often go through multiple reads before being slated for approval,” MTSD Superintendent Amy Rex told the Independent in an email.
After the first read on Thursday, the floor was opened up for community comments. There were parents and students who spoke for the policy and against it.
Allison Duquette, a Milton resident and parent, was the first to speak in front of the board about the agenda. She told the board she sent out an email to members with questions about the policy, but had only gotten a response from one person. Out of her numerous questions, she said only three were answered.
“I can only assume this means that no one can answer those questions. If that's the case, I think it would be unethical to adopt a policy that people here cannot explain, or understand,” Duquette said. “I do believe that this policy will just make a lot of the issues that are going on in the school currently worse.”
It is typical practice that the chair of a board or committee speaks on behalf of all members.
Another parent shared that she is opposed to the equity policy but it is not because she is opposed to inclusivity, diversity and inclusivity.
“I oppose it because it is the Trojan horse for a progressive plow that has infected every aspect of this school. There is no way to measure whether equity is working,” she said.
The district does plan to measure and distribute the policy procedures using the data they have on marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Section 3[D] of the proposed equity policy deals with the data, assessment and distribution of resources.
“Clauses under this subsection deal with the way in which the district gathers and presents information that leads to consequential decisions, especially budget allocations and distribution of resources,” the subsection states.
While about half of the parents and community members spoke out against the proposed equity policy, other students and parents shared they were for it.
Otis Hecker, who speaks English as a second language, shared that they believed the policy is important for students like them.
“I feel that if the equity policy gets passed through, it will create more opportunities for people to get help. That's what equity is, getting everybody the help that they need,” Hecker said.
Students who identify as a part of the LGBTQ+ community or who have had IEP plans throughout their education also spoke out in favor of the policy.
Parren Dulmer, a junior at Milton High School, shared their experience as a transgender youth in the MTSD and why the proposed policy is important to them.
“I implore all of you on the school board to pass this policy because it will help people like me and help everyone who was identified as different from the norm. It will also help to stop the rampant homophobia and discrimination that I see in this school every day,” they said.
Once community comments were over, the MTSD board of trustees voted for sections 3[C] and 3[D] to undergo revisions for a second reading.
“The committee and I were very pleased with the first read,” Rex said. “The community comments portion of the meeting that followed the discussion went very well. People expressed their feelings, for and against the policy, respectfully. Comments for feedback and suggestions were thoughtful and productive.”
Upcoming MTSD Board Meeting
The next MTSD school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. on May 25 in the Milton High School Library, located at 17 Rebecca Lander Dr.
For those with more questions about the proposed equity policy, the MTSD website has a FAQ page. Attending school board meetings, emailing the Superintendent or the Director of Equity are other resources for more information on the equity policy.
**This article was updated on 11:23 a.m. May 18 to include more information**
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