BY KARISSA MILLER
The Iredell-Statesville Board of Education has approved a partnership with DreamBuilders Communication as part of an effort to increase equity and inclusion in district schools.
DreamBuilders Communication CEO Kenston Griffin said will help identify best practices to create equity, but it will take the effort of all stakeholders to produce results.
“One person can make an impact, but this is going to take a collective effort from the west side to Lake Norman to the north to South Iredell,” Griffin said.
When it comes to equity, diversity, and inclusion, Griffin explained, “businesses and industries must evaluate previous practices and begin relevant and evidence-based collaborative programming to serve all communities with equality that will level the playing field academically.”
Superintendent Jeff James said the district would forge a three-year partnership aimed at strengthening N.B. Mills Elementary, Third Creek Elementary and Statesville High.
“It’s bigger than one individual in the school system. It’s going to take a concerted effort, especially starting at our most at-risk schools, where there are new principals, and then branching out,” James explained.
DreamBuilders’ proposal for services is being reviewed by the school board’s attorney. The contract will then be vetted by an outside agency, James said.
The cost of services has not been finalized, according to the new superintendent.
The Proposal of Services includes school-wide equity training for the three schools. Some examples of the services outlined include:
• Collaborative Meeting with Principal and Transition Team;
• Utilization of Gap Analysis Process;
• School-Based On-boarding to support execution and accountability;
• School Level Setting/Team Alignment with the Executive Leadership Team;
• School Level Setting/Team Alignment with the School Improvement Team (SIT);
• All-Staff Professional Development Alignment/Development/Assessment Review;
• Year-Long Principal Collaborative Training;
• Year-Long Assistant Principal Collaborative Training; and
• Monthly Check-ins with the Superintendent
Other notable services include:
• Up to six district-wide trainings on equitable practices, biases (unconscious and conscious) and inclusion;
• Stakeholder involvement;
• Recruitment at external collegiate institutions. For example, Historically Black College and Universities as well as the specific colleges of education, social work and social sciences;
• Execution plans at the three targeted schools;
• Execution of the District Level Execution Plan;
• Conduct meetings with the superintendent and the school board — evaluating the current state of equity, current practices, framework, develop measurable and comparable steps;
• Provide one executive summary; and
James has experience with equity and diversity training and has co-presented at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction with DreamBuilders in the past.
The district’s leadership team, including central office staff, principals and the district’s School Improvement Team will also receive training.
The partnership, approved by a unanimous 7-0 vote by the board, demonstrates the board’s commitment to racial equality, diversity, equity and inclusion, according to James.
In recent weeks, school board members have been criticized by community members for removing LaToya Caesar as the district’s equity officer and community liaison for underperforming schools. At the direction of the board, Caesar was reassigned as an assistant principal at Third Creek Middle School by former Superintendent Brady Johnson.
Caesar’s work has been described by community members as “critical” to helping improve performance for underserved populations in the community.