The Derby USD 260 school board narrowly rejected a proposed five-year strategic plan for the district because opponents objected to what they saw as its reliance on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
As reported in The Wichita Eagle, dozens of community members in the Wichita suburb, in and outside the school system, developed the plan over several months. But a 4-3 majority found it went too far on DEI issues, including its focus on students’ mental health, social-emotional well-being, and plans for an advisory committee to monitor student and staff diversity.
Opponents were concerned about several items in the proposal:
- Derby Public Schools strives to create a safe and inclusive culture and a comprehensive educational experience that propels students toward their fullest potential so they can positively impact their community.
- We believe in embracing diversity and promoting inclusiveness.
- We are committed to creating a safe, positive culture that fosters respect, inclusion, and equity for all educational stakeholders regardless of race, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, socio-economic status, age, gender, and thoughts or beliefs.
- The School Climate and Culture Committee will intentionally pursue and regularly report on trends in student and staff diversity.
But as is often the case, school districts’ claims of a ‘comprehensive educational experience’ and equity regardless of race or socio-economic status exist only on paper, as Derby and other districts perpetuate race-based and income-based educational discrimination.
White students and those who are not low-income are about twice as likely to be proficient in math as Black students and low-income students.
Professing to provide a ‘comprehensive educational experience’ is also not reflected in student outcomes. About half of Derby high school students are below grade level in math and English language arts, and only one in five are proficient.
The Sentinel contacted each board member for comment on how they arrived at their vote and student outcomes, but no one responded.
USD 260 Communications Director Katie Carlson said the process of developing another 5-year plan begins anew:
“After the motion to approve the strategic plan failed 3-4, the board provided the direction for Superintendent Heather Bohaty and Max McGee from Hazard Young Attea & Associates (HYA – strategic plan facilitators) to work along with the board to determine the next steps in the strategic plan process. Previous strategic plans we’ve had in place were designed to be a roadmap for the school district, outline focus areas and articulate a common foundation of expectations and goals in place to prepare our students and staff for success. The development of the next five-year strategic plan will continue to be a high priority and should be representative of all stakeholders. We appreciate the extensive work the steering committee that developed the proposed strategic plan has put into this point.”