For the first time since the start of its virtual meetings, the Williamson County Schools Board of Education allowed citizens to tune into its meeting Monday to address the board, and two parents called for the formation of a group to discuss racial issues pertaining to the schools and provide recommendations for action.
“Start a diversity task force — a real one,” Anne McGraw said. “Be on the right side of history, and be the leaders I know you can be for these students. As the quote goes, ‘Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.’”
McGraw also asked the district to include items pertaining to diversity and inclusion in its strategic plan.
Another parent, Jennifer Cortez, similarly asked for a consultation group, presenting five steps she would like the district to take:
• She called on the community at large to “do some self-reflection and begin to educate ourselves about our own biases.”
• She asked the district to “assemble a leadership team of people of color in the community to be our guides and consultants and set aside money in the budget to pay them a consulting fee.”
• She said the district and leadership team should “examine the policies that already exist” for the district and “ask ourselves, ‘Are these protections clear enough and strong enough?’”
• She asked for the district and leadership team to “actively begin to educate our community about these policies and the need for them and what they are and how they’ll be enforced.”
• Finally, she asked the community to “offer you, the board, and our leadership and all of our schools coverage, support and accountability as you face into this massive, emotionally charged, critical issue.”
WCS Superintendent Jason Golden said action following incidents of race discrimination has always been important to the district, but he also considers this a time to grow.
“Anytime we hear anything that even in the slightest alleges to race discrimination either by students or faculty, we demand of ourselves action, and that’s very important to us,” he said. “With these questions becoming much more widely discussed in our community, I see this as an opportunity for us to grow as well, so I do look forward to those processes, to those discussions, to us taking those next steps so that we can grow in how we relate to each other in the context of race.”
Another parent asked that masks be mandatory in the event students meet on campus in the fall. She also asked the district to look into expanding its online class offerings.
Golden shared students have already filled more than 2,950 seats for online learning in the fall, up from about 1,900 last year. Additionally, Dave Allen, the assistant superintendent of teaching, learning and assessment, shared the district is interested in expanding online options but is having conversations about what is possible at this time.
“We have hundreds of course offerings, and so it’s difficult for us to create a schedule with current staffing,” he said. “We won’t be able to go back and ask for additional staffing, so we’re trying to just work within the budget that we have.”
A fourth parent suggested parents should be able to decide whether they want their children to attend school on campus or online and asked the only time school campuses be shut down is in the event of an executive order from the governor.
During the voting portion of the meeting, the school board reviewed its evaluation of the superintendent, which scored 86% of possible points with an average score of 4.27 out of 5 on each of the 80-plus items. The lowest scoring measures scored 3.55 out of 5 each for encouraging parent involvement and for assisting the board “in planning and executing a highly productive planning retreat to reinforce the board’s vision and priorities.”
The board will meet again on Monday, July 13, at the WCS Professional Development Center to discuss the district’s plans to reopen in the fall. For more information, visit wcs.edu.
Read the full evaluation of Superintendent Jason Golden from the school board below.
Included below is the first evaluation from the school board of former WCS Superintendent Mike Looney in 2011 for comparison. The format has changed significantly and is less comprehensive than the current evaluation form used by the school board.