School Equity Committee Extended, Future Rest with Next School Board

A School Board majority last week rejected a proposal to convert the Ad Hoc Committee on Equity into a permanent panel with indefinite standing, but did agree to extend its December deadline.

The 25-member committee was created by the School Board in March in response to strong public criticism led by representatives of theLoudoun chapter of the NAACP who claimed that little was being done to combat racist behavior or address systemic inequities. In addition to creating the committee to delve into the concerns, the board commissioned a comprehensive assessment to better understand the concerns about equity and racism among students, teachers and parents. That report was release in June and found a “hostile learning environment” where students faced no consequences for hateful actions.

The panel was expected to wrap up its work in December, but it is clear that its effort to create an overarching policy toensure equitable treatment among all students will take longer.

School Board Vice Chairman Brenda Sheridan (Sterling) made a motion to convert the panel to a “select committee” of the board with an indefinite date to complete its work. Other School Board members said it was too soon to make that decision, as it wasn’t exactly clear where the committee’s work would lead.

Joy Maloney (Broad Run) said she feared that, without the current board taking action to make it a select committee, the next board that takes over in January could let the panel’s charter expire without taking a formal vote to shut down the committee’s work.

Chairman Jeff Morse (Dulles) dismissed those concerns. “Nobody up here has talked about ending the committee, no matter what form it takes going forward,” he said.

He said he wanted to see the dialogue continue, but suggested the existing Minority Student Achievement Committee, which has been highlighting equity concerns for decades, could be the best long-term advocacy option.

A five-member majority supported a proposal by Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) to extend the committee’s work through June. He said that would give the panel more time to develop new equity policies and afford the next board with the opportunity to evaluate its value.

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