Windham Southeast School District (WSESD) Policy and Amendment Committee
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
Regular meeting 2:30 pm
Hybrid meeting: WSESU Central Office, 53 Green St., Brattleboro, VT and
Remotely via Zoom
Policy and Amendment Committee members present: Deborah Stanford (DS, Chair, via zoom), Tim Maciel (TM), Anne Beekman (AB), Eva Nolan (EN, via Zoom)
WSESD/U Staff and Administrators present: Superintendent Mark Speno (MS), Mo Hart (MH), Kerry Amidon (KA), Michael Kelliher (MK), Paul Smith (PS)
Guests attending: Liz Adams (via Zoom), Robin Morgan (via Zoom)
Call to Order
Chair DS convened the meeting at 2:34 pm and read the hybrid statement.
I. Approval of Minutes and confirmation of next meeting date
The minutes of 07/11/23 meeting approved by assent.
The next meetings for the Policy and Amendments Committee are scheduled for:
Tuesday, Sept 5, 2023
Tuesday, Sept 19, 2023
DS gave the following updates: H7 (Leadership Councils) has been readopted, and F42 (Student Dress Code), E17 (Fire and Emergency Preparedness Drills), and H8 (Access Control and Visitor Management) have been adopted by full Board vote.
III. D1 Personnel-Recruitment, Selection, Appointment, and Background Checks
HR Director Michael Kelliher, Superintendent Mark Speno, the Social Justice Committee, and interested community members were invited to participate in the Policy and Amendments
Committee’s discussion of D1 (Personnel – Recruitment, Selection, Appointment, and Background Checks).
The Social Justice Committee reports that they have been having discussions relevant to hiring practices, how to create diverse selection committees, and how schools are allowing diverse bodies to have a seat at the table. The Social Justice Committee was unsure whether some of their suggestions would fall under policy or procedure.
A discussion ensues on various aspects of personnel recruitment:
EN brings up the discussion around paraprofessionals —the majority of POCs working for the district are in paraprofessional positions. Those positions do not offer a living wage, but they are essential workers. How do we get them licenses, and be able to further their careers? And how can we attract new paraprofessionals?
DS agrees that it is a nationwide issue. She wants this district to be a breath of fresh air in terms of how we deal with paraprofessionals, but she is not sure how we can address this in this meeting.
KA notes that the conversation could start here but may belong at the SD/SU level. Paraprofessionals are under a separate contract. It’s coming up on the end of a three-year
contract, and there could be work towards improving wages, professional development, educational reimbursement… There’s a place for this conversation, but maybe it’s not here. MH notes that the Agency of Education has created a pathway for paras to become certified in special education.
Social Justice Ambassadors
MK offers an example from a previous agency where he worked that had social justice ambassadors. They would attend internal job fairs and external recruiting events. They would
talk to potential applicants about social justice in the agency and would also be involved with interviewing. He suggested that we could do a similar thing here and designate a group of social justice ambassadors, provide them with training and get them involved with certain types of interviews.
MK reports that Greenfield Community College (GCC) started a paraprofessional certification program this year. It’s a 6-week summer program and had a 20-person cohort this year. He notes that the district is still trying to fill some open para positions and we may be trying to bring a couple folks over from that program.
GCC, in hopes of bringing them together for next summer’s cohort. This could be a chance to get people from the refugee population into schools as paras.
designation: An entry-level para, then a second level with additional skills, maybe even a third level. The district would benefit from their skills, and the more skilled workers would benefit
from better wages.
changing culture by sharing stories. MK can see developing 30- to 45-second videos of people’s stories, and potential applicants can think, “Here’s someone who looks like me and here’s why they want to work here.”
vision is a breath of fresh air. One ask: to open up the conversation about what diversity means and why it is important. Kids who are growing up will have bosses and authority figures who will not look like them. It’s not just important for POC kids, it’s important for everyone.
All Supervisory Union (SU) administrative position applications will be reviewed by screening committees appointed by the Superintendent. WSESD Board representatives will
also participate on the screening committees and will be chosen by the full WSESD Board. DS notes that an alert could go out to the Board about the need for representation on a screening committee, so there would not be a problematic two-week delay. She appreciates the social justice ambassadors idea, but also thinks PD training may be necessary.
Appendix of admin positions
attached to the policy. 16 VSA 242
(3)(A) Nominate a candidate for employment by the school district or supervisory union if the vacant position requires a licensed employee; provided, if the appropriate board declines
to hire a candidate, then the superintendent shall nominate a new candidate;
language, the discussion of who is serving on hiring committees would be shifted to open meetings. Otherwise it can be very opaque, in terms of who will be on hiring committees and why.
many applicants who are not viable candidates. Will every single application have to be reviewed by the screening committing?
1. Explain your experience(s) working with historically marginalized groups. What have you learned from this (these) experiences? Include times when you have made mistakes.
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?
the size of the applicant pool. That is the only way to increase possibility of diversity in the applicant pool. This is a universal problem not just in this district.
the next P&A Committee meeting.
D1 (DS, TM, PS, MK to do editing on this prior to the meeting)
G8 (TM to do post-merger language edits and send to MH prior to meeting) Safety policies (if time, otherwise Sept 19; DS to send out prior to meeting)
Notes taken by Anna Monders (recorder)
Submitted by Tim Maciel (vice chair)