Hamilton County Schools to hold equity task force

(Image: WTVC)

The Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) says it is committed to meeting the needs of all students to receive a high-quality education, with equitable access to opportunities and resources.

To fulfill this commitment, HCDE says an Equity Task Force will be held by the district to ensure a brighter future for all children in the district.

HCDE says in the first round of listening sessions the system held with parents and community leaders last fall, equity was highlighted, and they continue to receive community feedback on this issue in recent months.

In response to that community feedback, HCDE says the reorganization of central office introduced the role of chief equity officer, Dr. Marsha Drake.

HCDE says Dr. Drake is launching the Equity Task Force to review current practices in school choice, student assignment, student access, discipline, magnet policies, exceptional education procedures and programming, and English language learner procedures and programming.

The Equity Task Force will make recommendations for developing an equity framework for student access and key performance indicators to monitor success.

The goals of the Equity Task Force will be to:

  • Identify opportunities and make recommendations regarding how the district can improve overall educational equity for students in historically underserved groups
  • Review school programming (e.g., magnets), student assignment policies (e.g., hardship transfers and open enrollment), ELL and exceptional education, and discipline practices to develop recommendations that would improve equitable access for all students
  • Develop an Equity Framework and key performance indicators to monitor district performance on equitable distribution of resources and student outcomes

HCDE says important community groups with a history of interest in equity for children have agreed to participate in the Task Force.

The Equity Task Force will include representatives from UnifiEd, the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County Government, and other educational, business and religious leaders from the community.

Dr. Steve Highlander, chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Education, will participate in the Equity Task Force and represent the board of education.

Highlander said, “I look forward to working with community leaders to enhance our equity efforts to benefit the children in Hamilton County Schools.”

Hamilton County Schools say a kick-off meeting for the group will be in April with regular meetings through July.

The group will present its recommendations to the Hamilton County Board of Education in August.

“Equity was a focus of the community that came through loud and clear in our listening sessions across Hamilton County,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “This Task Force will help develop the framework to ensure that all students can access the opportunities and resources to help them succeed after graduation.” He added, “Equitable access will be a key component for Hamilton County Schools becoming the fastest improving school district in the state of Tennessee.”

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