Mountain Brook Schools BEGIN IMPLEMENTING DIVERSITY COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS
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Mountain Brook Schools Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow (fourth from left) stands with members of the MBS Diversity Committee who attended an April 6 meeting in person. They include, from left to right: Donald Clayton, Dr. Al Cohn, Christy Christian, Charles Woods, Stephen Bridgers, Danny Cohn, Dr. Sandy Ritchey, and Carla Dudley.
April 14, 2021 — The Mountain Brook Schools Diversity Committee in December presented five recommendations to the school district to help it more effectively achieve one of its primary strategic goals.
That goal is to develop or enhance structures and practices to ensure the school district honors individual differences, diversity, and the dignity of all, and that all members of the school community are treated with respect.
MBS has begun to implement the Diversity Committee’s recommendations over the past few months and on Tuesday, April 6, provided an update to committee members about the recent progress.
“Our school district is dedicated to enhancing how we honor and respect diversity and remains grateful to everyone who is helping lay the foundation for long-term growth,” MBS Superintendent Dr. Dicky Barlow said. “While we are putting critical pieces into place, our work is only just beginning.”
Each Mountain Brook school has already formed its own diversity committee that will develop programming to enhance students’ experiences and create opportunities for them to interact and partner with diverse communities and people. The school-based diversity committees consist of teachers, school leaders, parents, and students, with one or two committee members serving in leadership roles.
“Our school diversity committees are currently conducting school audits to determine where their schools are with regard to culture, climate, and where they feel like we need to steer that conversation in year one,” said MBS Director of Student Services Amanda Hood, who serves as a liaison between the school district and Diversity Committee.
Additionally, the school district has started to develop partnerships with local and national organizations as resources for professional learning, student training, and parent support.
Close to 500 MBS employees have already completed anti-bias training through the Anti-Defamation League. Before the start of the 2021-2022 school year, all employees are required to complete the training.
“The anti-bias training is really about the lens through which you see the world that has been formed by your upbringing, experiences, and communities you’ve lived in,” Hood said. “It really pushes you to stand back and reflect on how those things have shaped your opinions, thoughts, and lens.”
Principals and school-based diversity committee leaders are also completing leadership training through the Anti-Defamation League and are preparing to implement the ADL’s No Place for Hate program on their campuses next school year. The No Place for Hate program equips schools to build learning communities of inclusivity, respect, and equity.
"Local school diversity committees will establish a minimum of three genuine, authentic, interactive experiences that will occur in their schools to start important conversations and enhance culture," Hood said.
Furthermore, school district leadership will consider recommendations from students who are part of the Diversity Committee's student subcommittee.
“Right now we have a general code in our student handbook about bullying, intimidation, and harassment,” Hood said. “But our students recommended that our school district look at this more closely."
Submitted: Apr 18, 2021