Frederick County holds racial equity virtual town hall

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Frederick, Md. (WDVM) — Community leaders joined county executive Jan Gardner in a virtual town hall on Monday night to discuss the importance of creating racial equity.

In light of recent events, county officials decided that creating racial equity must start at the foundation of the community’s future.

The executive director of Accelerating Achievement of Frederick County public schools, Dr. Keith Harris, discussed the journey his staff members have taken to help develop a better future within the education system.

“When we talk about equity leadership, we talk about our staff gracefully standing up and standing for others, demonstrating the courage and taking risks towards improvement even if it’s against what is normal practice.”

Dr. Keith Harris

Dr. Harris also highlights that 21% of staff hired this year were people of colour and of diverse backgrounds. He also pointed out that this percentage is higher now than percentages in years past. Dr. Harris went on to discuss how gaps in performance trends among different races are closing in the Frederick Public School System. On top of improved academic performance, Dr. Harris highlighted that a goal of the FPS is to hire, support, and retain qualified, diverse staff members and educators.

He also plans to continue the mandatory school based Cultural Proficiency Training each year which have been in practice since 2015. Dr. Harris also highlighted the creation of the Racial Equity Committee which was established during this past school year. He believes that the in order for a community to have racial equity, they must first work to gain cultural proficiency followed by equity which then leads to racial equity and social justice.

Dr. Harris emphasized the steps that his staff are taking to create a more inclusive environment. He and his staff started working towards this goal a number of years ago to “understanding the perspectives and lived experiences of our students and our staff, beginning with understanding diversity and understanding cultural proficiency to moving on to make sure that each of our employees understand what it means to be an equity leader and have an equity lens.”

The presentation slides from the meeting are available to rewatch. For more information, visit the Frederick County website.

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