By Barney Blakeney
In its continuing effort to better serve Charleston County School District students, the district is developing an advisory group to help teachers and staff understand their roles in creating schools that are more culturally responsive the diverse student population it serves. Additionally, that group will help recruit a staff person to lead the district’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
Don Kennedy, the district’s chief financial and administrative officer, said the 11-member volunteer group will serve in an advisory role that will assist in creating a multicultural system. Its responsibilities will impact improving diversity at all levels through thought leadership and feedback in developing initiatives and strategies, Kennedy said. Its membership is being developed and should be completed this month, he said. The CCSD School Board has mandated that the administrative staff receives cultural diversity training in 2020.
“The work is challenging,” said Kennedy. So the group’s design will determine its success. He’s committed to insuring its members are capable of meeting the challenges diversity represents in CCSD. Kennedy and his team consulted with entities around the country which included Miami Dade Public School System, Austin, Tx. Independent School District and the Colorado Department of Education to develop a model for CCSD. The group will meet quarterly beginning in March. “We’re all excited and that’s a good start,” Kennedy said.
Targets for the diversity and cultural training ultimately developed will include principals, teachers, volunteers, paraprofessionals, district level leaders, department heads and school board members. The district has some 5,500 staff so obviously the process will be long term, Kennedy said.