Hillsborough County Public Schools made a historic move earlier this year by adopting a district-wide racial equity policy that calls for identifying and addressing the root causes of racial disparities in student learning.

To start this ambitious undertaking, the district partnered with the Leadership Academy to support senior staff and board members in examining district policies and goals through an equity lens.

“Our goal is to become a culturally-competent school district that is equipped to meet the needs of our increasingly diverse student population,” said Hillsborough’s Chief Diversity Officer Minerva Spanner-Morrow. “It was critical for us to start by developing a shared language for equity so that our board could support the district’s equity work and be able to explain this work outside of the system. Having a shared language allows us, the district leaders, to clearly identify what equity looks like in the context of our school district.”

In the sessions this fall, Leadership Academy facilitators led school board members in how to champion the district equity policy and develop succinct ways to talk about the policy with community members. Our team also worked with district senior staff in reflecting on their own racial histories and the impact implicit biases have in schools. District senior leaders also started to define the conditions necessary for them to implement their racial equity plans that align with the district policy.

“This work really sets the foundation for us to get on the same page so that our future actions to eliminate systemic disparities align with the racial equity plan and our shared understanding of what success looks like for all students,” said Minerva. “I am looking forward to continuing our partnership with the Leadership Academy to implement best practices that our leaders can use in their work to advance equity.”

Hillsborough has also partnered with us to develop a tool for area superintendents and principals to use during their learning walks in order to better identify and address inequities during school and classroom observations.