A policy is a high-level and broad overview of the desired initiative; administrative guidelines detail how a policy will be implemented and monitored. Together, a set of policies and administrative guidelines ensure that the vision and mission of the policy are aligned. Once the Board of School Trustees approves a policy, administrative guidelines will be written that outline the specific actions for strict and swift enforcement of the policy.
The MCCSC administrative team, alongside the student equity ambassadors, is highly committed to co-creating a racial equity policy that protects the entire community. Research has been conducted on the importance of incorporating student ideas, perspectives and lived experiences in the co-creation of school policies and procedures alongside school administrators (Mitra, 2009). MCCSC is proud to be one of the first school districts in the state and country to invite students from diverse backgrounds to co-develop concepts, ideas, and language that ultimately will be included in a policy on combatting racism in public schools. Typically, school district administrators develop policies without the input of students.
The racial equity, or anti-racism, policy, will not stand alone. Rather, it will be used in combination with existing harassment and bullying policies to ensure that students from diverse backgrounds are not subjected to racial harassment, racial bullying or racial discrimination in any MCCSC school. All three board policies are used in tandem to determine code of conduct consequences for any student who violates one or more provisions of the policies.
MCCSC administration created the Student Equity Ambassador program in response to concerns taken to the school board by students seeking the creation of an anti-racism policy. Student Equity Ambassadors and MCCSC administrators began working together in August 2022. The role and function of the ambassador program is to provide a safe space for students from diverse backgrounds and life experiences to come together and provide input on a variety of topics and initiatives to strengthen educational equity in our schools.
More than 35 9th-12th grade students submitted applications to become a Student Equity Ambassador, and a total of 30 high school students participated in one or more work sessions throughout the process. The makeup of the participating ambassadors included students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds that included but were not limited to: Latino/a, Asian American, Indian, African-American, White, and African. Approximately 70 6th-8th grade students submitted applications to become student equity ambassadors and 30 students were selected.
Thirty high school Student Equity Ambassadors participated in three initial training and work sessions. These Equity Ambassadors spent approximately 15-30 hours in these sessions, which were specifically designed to introduce high school students to the concept of policy development. At the request of the ambassadors, additional work sessions were arranged to provide more time for student input and review. Sessions were comprised of large group, small group, independent learning, and brainstorming activities designed to educate students and staff on the process for co-creating ideas that would ultimately inform policy development. At the conclusion of the third ambassador work session, every high school ambassador was asked to indicate in writing if they wanted to 1) Assist in training and working with the 6th-8th grade ambassadors, 2) Assist in training and working with teachers or 3) Present ambassador information and experiences at the December 2022 or January 2023 school board meeting. Student Equity Ambassadors trained approximately 50-75 MCCSC teachers; the participating teachers unanimously suggested that the training delivered by the students should be mandatory for all teachers in the corporation.
Approximately 200 teachers, students and administrators shared their thoughts, suggestions, and ideas in the development of the first ever proposed MCCSC Racial Equity Policy. Approximately 350 community members, parents, caregivers, and educators completed our racial equity survey and provided input on the six components of our future policy. MCCSC administration collected approximately 2,070 written, open-ended responses on what should be included in the racial equity policy. Cumulatively, the MCCSC administrators and staff spent more than 720+ hours working on the development of the racial equity policy.