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Equity & Inclusion

June 6, 2020 

Around our nation and in our community, Americans are protesting against systemic racism and the killing of George Floyd. The Canandaigua City School District recognizes the important role the district plays in the Canandaigua community and continues to prioritize creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all our students. The district renewed efforts around these important issues while developing a new strategic plan during the 2018-2019 school year. 

In the Fall of 2018, the Canandaigua City School District worked with Ithaca Schools Superintendent, Dr. Luvelle Brown, to facilitate the creation of the new strategic plan, including new mission and vision statements. Ultimately, the new strategic plan included four main goals, one being to, “Cultivate an Equitable and Inclusive School Environment.” The creation of this goal and the resulting initiatives came about after listening to concerns shared on this topic by students, staff, parents, and community members during our community conversations and in all facets of communication in and around the district. It was further reaffirmed after hearing the student speakers at the recent rallies.  

During the 2019-2020 school year, the district initiated many steps to start to address the goal and began engaging in meaningful conversations around equity and inclusion. Some of the work includes: 

  • On the opening day of school in September, all district employees gathered in the Academy auditorium where Superintendent Jamie Farr presented with two guest speakers, Dr. Luvelle Brown and Dr. Sean Eversley-Bradwell, both of whom are international speakers on the topic of equity and inclusion. The topics addressed on the first day of school with our entire staff were our changing demographics, the history of slavery, and oppression both globally and locally, implicit bias, and what impact these issues have on educating our students. 

  • Our administrative team attended multi-day diversity symposiums and continues to engage in professional learning to deepen our understanding about race, diversity, equity, inclusion, and implicit bias. 

  • All instructional and administrative staff engaged in professional development sessions related to equity and inclusion throughout the school year and through online platforms, including professional learning focused on the NYSED Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. 

  • At the Primary and Elementary Schools, our teachers have spent the last two years revising our writing curriculum and seeking to diversify text to be more inclusive and culturally responsive, including prompts linked to social justice. They also had the opportunity to explore a collection of children’s literature focused on diversity, which was organized by one of our third grade teachers. 

  • During the COVID-19 closure, many classes throughout the District- social studies, English, and more- are analyzing the current movement and events from the lens of discussing implicit bias and systemic racism. 

  • The Central Office Management Team analyzed bias in the hiring process and all district hiring committees will be instructed on the awareness of implicit bias in the hiring process and created procedures to measure candidates using objective criteria.

  • The Board of Education completely revamped our policy manual, analyzing and updating the language to be inclusive. The same process is currently being done with the district regulations. 

Work around inclusion isn’t limited to race and ethnicity. The district engaged in an independent review of our intervention and special education program which is driving change.  We sustain a very active Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) program in both the middle school and the Academy. Additionally, annually we host speakers on LGBTQ topics. We have engaged in poverty training, trauma-informed instruction, and brought in BravesSquare as a communication platform partly because it can translate communications into any language for our families who are new to speaking English. In January, our athletic director and some student athletes attended Section V training on inclusion in sports and we continue to bring outside speakers in to present on a variety of topics to our students and staff. 

The Canandaigua City School District acknowledges that we have more learning to do and more work to accomplish. Creating an equitable and inclusive learning environment remains our goal and our duty. 

We remain committed to doing what we can to not only teach, explore, and deepen our understanding of these systemic societal issues, but we also seek to make Canandaigua a safe and inclusive learning environment for ALL students. This is a priority and while I think we took a leap forward in this process during the most recent school year, we still have a long way to go.

Our community has a long history of advocating for equity and inclusion. In the 19th century, Frederick Douglass argued against slavery at the Bemis Block on Main Street and Susan B. Anthony's trial for illegal voting was held at the Ontario County Courthouse. The work continues today and with community support, we can reach our vision of, “One Community, Transforming Lives.”  

Sincerely,

 

Jeanie Grimm

Canandaigua City School Board President

 

Jamie Farr

Superintendent of the Canandaigua City School

Equity & Inclusion Resources for Families

All of the links above will direct you to a website not affiliated with the Canandaigua City School District. We are not responsible for the content of these sites.