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District Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative

December 22. 2020

Lakeland Families,

The Lakeland Board of Education unanimously approved their annual Board Goals on December 10, 2020. Significantly, the Board added a new goal this year focused specifically on the topic of equity. The decision to add this goal was the culmination of numerous discussions throughout the late summer and fall which involved the Board of Education as well as District Administration. These discussions centered on ensuring that ALL Lakeland students feel welcomed, valued, included, and physically and emotionally safe while in school. This goal also addresses the expectation that all New York State School Districts actively engage in this work through the New York State Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education Framework.

To these ends, and in support of this goal, I am pleased to announce that the District has expanded their relationship with Dr. Gess LeBlanc to assist in gathering feedback from our students and families using a focus group model as well as facilitating the creation and work of a District Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team. Previously, Dr. LeBlanc has worked with students and staff at the Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, focusing on student engagement and culturally responsive teaching practices.

Practically speaking, a limited number of parents/guardians will be able to participate in these virtual focus groups with Dr. LeBlanc. If you are interested in participating, please contact Dr. LeBlanc directly at Focus group sessions will be approximately 45 minutes in length and occur in the evening. In addition, all faculty and staff, as well as students in grades 6-12 will have the opportunity to participate in an equity and inclusion survey later in the school year.

Using the four core elements of the New York State Framework as a backdrop (Welcoming and Affirming Environment, Inclusive Curriculum and Assessment, High Expectations and Rigorous Instruction, and Ongoing Professional Learning and Support), the District Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team will examine Lakeland’s practices, policies, academic, attendance, discipline and other data points, as well as the results of the focus groups and student survey. Using this information, the team will make recommendations to the Board of Education for further action.

The Team will consist of 25-30 members representing a diverse cross section of our district and will include parents, students, teachers, support staff, administrators, and board members. Four 90 minute virtual meetings will be scheduled for the late afternoon or early evening beginning in February. If you or your child in grades 7-12 would be interested in being a member of the District Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team, please complete a brief on-line application found here. Members will be chosen based on their application, availability, and the needs for a balanced and diverse group. A small committee composed of Dr. LeBlanc, a District parent, a School Board Member, teacher representative, and myself will review the applications and select the team members. There will be additional opportunities to participate in school level teams that will be formed for the 2021-2022 school year.

We look forward to hearing from you as we continue this important work in support of our students, families and community.


Brendan Lyons, Ed. D.



Submitted: Mar 28, 2021