WINDHAM SOUTHEAST SCHOOL DISTRICT SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE
Jul 13, 202310:00am remote meeting
The Social Justice Committee will be bringing the following recommendations to the WSESD Board and Policy and Amendment Committee meetings for consideration:
● The 2021-22 WSESD Social Justice committee developed three questions related to
diversity and equity that should be included on all job applications. Currently only part
of the first question seems to be included on job listings. The Social Justice Committee
recommends that this be remedied and that all three questions are asked on every job
listing for the district.
● The Social Justice Committee would like the WSESD Board to consider asking
principals to email information ahead of the meeting to Board members for each person
they are bringing forward to hire that includes cover letter, CV, and application (which
should include the three questions referenced above).
● For job applicant screening committees that include board members, the Social Justice
Committee recommends that board member representation on committees be
determined by board vote in a public meeting. This could be incorporated into Policy
● The Social Justice Committee recommends that a survey be developed to acquire
baseline data on the current diversity of WSESD staff for the purpose of evaluating
progress toward the goal of increasing staff diversity. The survey could be repeated in
future years or as additional staff are hired.
Social Justice Committee members: Eva Nolan (EN), Robin Morgan (RM), Tim Maciel (TM)
Other Board Members: Deborah Stanford
Community Members: David Schoales, Lana Dever, Mary Gannon
I. Call to Order / Introductions / Recognition of Visitors
EN called the meeting to order at 10:04.
II. Clerk & minutes
RM moved to approve the minutes of the June 8 meeting. All voted in favor.
III. Revisit our tasks from the last meeting
EN reviewed the tasks committee members committed to do at the last meeting. EN found the language of the three application questions that were developed by a previous iteration of this committee. Tim sent articles for consideration about developing a diverse staff. RM published the minutes and invited community organizations and individuals to attend this meeting.
IV. Diversity questions in job listings.
The questions developed by the previous social justice committee at their February 3, 2022
(1) Explain your experience(s) working with historically marginalized groups. What have
you learned from this (these) experiences? Include times when you have made
(2)Describe your framework for equity and social justice in the classroom (or
workplace) and its origin,
(3) Where did you hear about this job posting?
As well as gathering important info from the candidates, The inclusion of all three questions conveys information to candidates about what the district’s values are. It seems like only part of the first question is being listed on job applications currently. The Social Justice Committee recommends that this be remedied and that all three questions are on every job listing in the district.
The Social Justice Committee would like the WSESD Board to consider asking principals to email information ahead of the meeting to Board members for each person they are bringing forward to hire that includes cover letter, CV, and application (which should include the 3 questions referenced above).
V. Structure of the hiring committees.
The committee would like to develop more specific policies about how job searches are conducted and who is involved in the process. The Policy and Amendment Committee will be considering Policy D1:Personnel Recruitment, Selection, Appointment and Background
Checks at their upcoming meeting and would like to work collaboratively with this committee to update the policy with the goal of a more diverse staff in mind.
The makeup of the screening committees is very important. Some schools have mandated that someone from a diverse background or a member of the school’s DEI committee be a part of every screening committee for hires in that school. This type of representation needs to be considered at the district level so there is consistency in hiring practices across the district. For screening committees that include board members, the Social Justice Committee would recommend that board member representation on committees be determined by board vote in a public meeting.
VI. Recruiting a more diverse faculty and staff.
The lack of diverse staff is harmful to all students and does not reflect a commitment to diversity in our district. Addressing this needs to become a primary focus. The district is already putting funding towards advertising some jobs in publications targeted at educators from diverse backgrounds. The committee discussed several additional strategies that could be pursued to recruit more diverse candidates for job openings in the district:
● Acquiring data on the current diversity of WSESD staff is important so that we can measure progress towards the goals of increasing it. HR could develop a survey for all staff to have baseline data that we can measure from, and the survey could be repeated in future years or as additional staff are hired.
● When promising candidates are interviewed but not hired, keep their applications on file and invite them to interview for future positions that come open in their field.
● When staff members are considering leaving, ask why and try to get them to stay. This is especially important for retaining staff from marginalized identities.
● Exit interviews are another opportunity for the district to learn from the experience. An online exit interview questionnaire was approved by the board in the past. If those questionnaires have been collected by HR it would be good to hear back on what kinds of issues led people to leave.
● Develop relationships with education departments at HBCUs and other colleges with diverse student populations.
● Consider running a banner ad on school spring with the language from the district’s anti-racist commitment that is in all job applications. “The Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) is an increasingly diverse community with an ongoing commitment to social justice and anti-racism. We are looking for enthusiastic professionals to join us in furthering this work.” The ad could link to the list of all job openings in our district. If this strategy is pursued, we should also track how many responses we receive from this ad.
● A lot of the BIPOC staff that we do have are concentrated in lower level and lower paid positions in schools – this is a widespread systemic problem across other schools and organizations. How can we help our staff develop their qualifications to become eligible for higher level positions? Funding educational reimbursement for this purpose or helping staff access grant funding or opportunities?
● There was a discussion about “on the spot” hiring at job fairs and how that might either support or create barriers to this goal. Rather than hiring people on the spot, administrators or other personnel tasked with recruiting staff at job fairs might choose to offer interviews to candidates directly at a job fair. Any hires would still be contingent on background checks and the other stipulations of Policy D1.
There was a discussion about creating a district-wide culture that supports diversity and equity in our schools. Some of the points raised were as follows:
● The district needs to work ongoingly to retain diverse staff, not just stop at hiring..
● Teachers who don’t yet have the knowledge and framework to center diversity, equity and inclusion in their teaching should be given more support to develop that lens. Teachers who are already doing this work deeply should be lifted up and celebrated.
● There is a need to develop structures for accountability around the goal of increasing staff skill around diversity, equity and social justice in their teaching. How can we develop benchmarks to evaluate their engagement with this work? This should be a part of performance reviews for administrators and teachers.
● Burlington School District is implementing this kind of conversation with their employees and we can look to that example as a resource for developing this in our own district..
● It is not consistent across all WSESD schools how much time each month Diversity and Equity Teacher Leaders have to work with their school staffs. That is the structure that currently exists for ongoing learning and support and deepening the understanding teachers have of a social justice lens in teaching. The committee could consider whether we recommend having a consistent structure or amount of time spent on this across the district for all teachers.
Tim will forward to board members and Superintendent the 2010 Seven Days article “The Diversity Test” as background material for any discussion about this topic.
There was a discussion of whether any board members would be involved in the hiring process for the open Restorative Justice Coordinator position. Since there is not yet a specific structure in place in the policy, the acting board chair may need to request information from the superintendent about how board members can be involved in that process.
VII. Next missions and goals to focus on.
Review policy D1 and, together with the Policy and Amendment Committee, develop the ideas related to the hiring process that were expressed in this meeting into policy recommendations. The August 22 meeting of the Policy and Amendment Committee will focus on this work.
Eva will research whether the full WSESD board ever voted to approve the three diversity questions in 2022.
Continue discussion about recruitment strategies and ongoing structures for staff development in this area at our next meeting.
Develop agenda items for WSESD Board Retreat in August.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:03.
Minutes submitted by Robin Morgan, Social Justice Committee Clerk. These minutes should
be considered provisional until approved by the committee at a future meeting.