MCCSC plans to have an anti-racism policy next school year. Students want action sooner.

·2 min read

The Monroe County Community School Corp. plans to add an anti-racism policy to its student handbook by the middle of the 2022-2023 school year.

Four students, who all attend or recently graduated from Bloomington High School North or Bloomington High School South, spoke at the May 24 MCCSC school board meeting about the racism they’ve experienced in school and asked administrators to add an anti-racism section to the district’s existing bullying policy.

Previous coverage for subscribers: MCCSC students of color experience racism 'every week, every day,' call for policy change

At the June 28 board meeting, two of the four students returned to speak about the importance of the policy. North senior Sabrah Wagner said she and her peers want timely investigation into reported racial discrimination incidents and appropriate consequences, protection for those who report the incidents, data collection specific to racial discrimination in schools, a statement in the student handbook about racial discrimination and a plan of action for the upcoming school year.

She said she came to speak to the board again due to a "lack of prioritization" of the issues she and her peers brought to the board last month.

“I understand that creating a policy takes time, and throughout the process there should be consistent communication,” she said. “Before the school year starts, something needs to be in place to ensure students of color feel safe returning to school.”

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Markay Winston, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the corporation will not be able to implement an anti-racism policy for about six months. This is because administration will need to meet with other students of color and school staff, which will start when the school year begins in August, and board policies require multiple readings before they can pass.

However, Winston has developed a preliminary statement addressing racial discrimination to be added to the 2022-2023 student handbook. The statement acknowledges the use of racial slurs and microaggressions are not tolerated in the school district and will be met with appropriate consequences.

Winston plans to meet with district principals in July to discuss the student handbook statement and ensure the principals are sharing it with their students. She also plans to meet with the four students in August and then create a student advisory group with students from diverse backgrounds, she said.

“This is a very complex topic and not something that we take lightly,” she said. “We want to make sure that we do our due diligence by addressing each and every component.”

South sophomore Jael Davis, who spoke at the May and June board meetings, said she and her peers would also like to see more resources and school events targeted toward students of color.

Contact Christine Stephenson at cstephenson@heraldt.com.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: MCCSC to add anti-racism policy to student handbook during 2022-23