Access and Inclusion

Note: This is a section of a larger set of policy and practice proposals before our board and community. Contact our office for additional information and to provide feedback or become involved. Sections will be updated as changes are made.

Highlights of proposed actions: 

  1. Curricular Access and Inclusion​
  2. Visibility Campaigns​
  3. Mission and Principles​
  4. In-house expertise support​
  5. Activating PLCs for Equity Analysis​
  6. Involvement of families from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds​
  7. Basic training to support Multilingual students​
  8. Training and compliance with policy to support transgender students and community.​
  9. Periodic updates on support systems for students who required additional support​
  10. Actions for students and families in financial hardship beyond requirements of law​
  11. Hiring of staff committed to equity​
  12. Teacher and staff evaluation​
  13. Respect and inclusion of considerations of faith communities for planning and scheduling purposes​
  14. Dress Code​
  15. Learning resources for school leaders​
  16. Response to racial and group-based trauma

Proposed Section in Full

Section 3 (b): Actions related to Access, Inclusion, and Professional Growth

i. Curriculum, curricular materials, and instruction in general shall be made accessible to all students by: (a) ensuring that curricular and instructional plans are designed with the least barriers possible from the start, (b) providing teachers and schools with enough resources so that instruction is characterized by high level of purposeful choice and personalization rather than narrow standardization of instruction, (c) providing regular and at least annual re-training of all staff on principles of access, inclusion, differentiation, and the principles of Universal Design for Learning, and (d) providing ongoing standards and goal-creation training to staff to encourage proficiency and focus on firm goals and flexible means.
 
ii. Direct all school buildings and facilities to make equitable practices, commitments, and change campaigns visible and constant so as to achieve high visibility to important messages of inclusion and belonging. Appropriate actions include: the publication of large informational panels about posted flags and slogans that educate the public and the school community about the why of these displays; the public distribution of actions plans around school-specific commitments to anti-racism, inclusion, belonging, diversity, and access; the increase in visibility online and printed publications of ways in which the Milton schools actively remove barriers and promote belonging; the use of internal and external public campaigns to engage students and other stakeholders in confronting the relevant questions of our time and engaging critically with our own shortcomings as a system and school community; the ongoing public request for input for continuous improvement in becoming less inequitable, more inclusive, responsive, affirming, stimulating, and welcoming.
 
iii. Maintain a district’s mission and guiding principles that, in addition to emphasizing our commitment to an outstanding and innovative education program for every student under our care, is intentionally and emphatically inclusive of tenets of belonging, inclusion, equity, anti-bias, care, safety, and diversity, and that is the direct product of a collective and reflective process from all stakeholders, especially traditionally minorized voices and historically marginalized groups.
 
iv. Capitalize on the existing and outstanding expertise of in-house educators and staff whose track-record demonstrates a deep and personal commitment to anti-racism, equity, and genuine care for students by providing leadership opportunities in professional development cycles. Actions to achieve a culture of in-house expertise and leadership should, at minimum, avoid the “equity tax” on educators and plan (i.e., grants or other types of funding) for the incorporation of stipends and reasonable time allotted within program schedules to allow for educators engaging in equity work to not volunteer unreasonably longer hours than colleagues without some support.
 
v. Direct professional learning teams (grade levels and departments) to incorporate student work, assessment data, and disaggregated patterns, to reflect on and address early indications of achievement gaps and overall community belonging for specific groups. For example, should students from a specific linguistic group begin to show signs of struggle in a common skill, activate professional learning community (i.e., PLC or PLG) structures to design additional layers of supports. This shall be in coordination with established education support teams (as they may overlap) but with the additional goal of affirmation of group patterns beyond simple achievement grouping.
 
vi. Fund and direct schools to invest in making additional efforts to involve families from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, including new immigrants, speakers of languages other than English (multilingual or emergent bilinguals), BIPOC, low socio-economic background, and housing-insecure or in transition. Family involvement shall be meaningful, respectful, and recurring, and occur beyond special events, celebrations, and holiday observations. Additional efforts may include investments in transportation and access to opportunities beyond the regular school day.
 
vii. Direct schools to require all staff to acquire basic knowledge of best practices in educating students for whom English is not the first language, or students whose access to the school program is impacted by reasons beyond the school’s control. In addition to evidence-based quality instructional practices, this may include knowledge of access to additional resources for families within and beyond the school around language supports, mental health, food security, and recreation. This knowledge may be acquired through formal professional development opportunities, information presented by existing coordinators, in-house sharing of expertise, or a combination of both, but must be planned in advance and with intention rather than leaving it as an afterthought.
 
viii. Add to the district list of required trainings (biannual or annual) meaningful information and capacity-building regarding respect, support, and compliance with antidiscrimination and privacy laws for transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and gender-fluid students given the growing national trend of misinformation and hostile narratives that aim to hurt and dehumanize. This training and resulting practices shall, at minimum, materialize in using current pronouns (rather than force gendering), using inclusive language, and providing access to facilities and resources that correspond with the student’s identity. Policy shall be maintained that gives weight and detail to this expectation and that establishes strong protective measures for students whose gender identity or gender expression does not meet traditional binary or heteronormative expectations. Policy and procedure will be created with the knowledge and advise of people knowledgeable in the matter and the input from students who identify within these communities.
 
ix. Require the district leadership to provide periodic (at least yearly) summative updates on education support systems and how students are receiving appropriate supports, including social and emotional development, especially to neurodiverse students, students from historically marginalized communities, and students with significant needs.
 
x. Poverty and economic barriers will be counteracted by direct actions from designated school personnel in the form of direct services and supports including access to food, clothing, and indispensable items, and the modification of the educational program for the individual student depending on their need. The district shall act in ways that go above and beyond the requirements of the McKinney Vento Act and other laws by providing highly personalized attention to students and families in transition as well as any necessary advocacy outside established statute.
 
xi. Revise hiring practices and procedures to place additional value on a candidate’s disposition to supporting all students regardless of background, including their expressed or implicit commitment to justice, access, equity, and belonging. Additionally, make concrete efforts to recruit a more diverse body of educators.
 
xii. Revise teacher evaluation practice, in coordination with the union and in fulfillment with existing rules, to ensure that proficiency in equitable practices and inclusive classrooms is
reflected in the weight of a teacher’s overall evaluation. Clear criteria may be set in collaboration with teachers and in alignment with stipulations in this policy.
 
xiii. In addition to complying with state and federal statute regarding the observance of religious holidays, make every effort to accommodate students and their faith traditions, including excusing their absence due to the observance of a religious holiday. Simultaneously, refrain from endorsing, promoting, or implicitly requiring the in-school celebration of holidays specific to a religious, ethnic, or racial group. As with any religious practice, such as prayer, students are allowed to practice their faith and honor their holidays so long as this does not interfere with the rights of other students and members of the school community to access the educational program in an environment free of harassment and proselytism, and as long as employees of the school do not initiate nor lead the practice.
 
xiv. Refrain from establishing dress codes that unnecessarily place an additional burden to, and may even violate the rights of, only certain groups of individuals based on prominent markers of personal or perceived identity such as gender, religion, race, physical characteristics, class, financial means, etc. This requirement includes all school-sponsored programs including sports and clubs; hence, dress code shall be established for well-justified sport-specific and activity-specific necessity rather than the arbitrary preferences of leaders. All dress code changes shall be recommended to administrators by a committee of stakeholders, including students and individuals for whom the change may have a disproportionate impact. Procedure regarding this process shall be formulated and reflected in all pertinent handbooks within two years of adoption of this policy. Appeals to existing code shall be given timely attention (immediate if possible) if a case of discrimination, objectification, inequity, or disproportionate burden is made. Existing board and school policy in conflict with this clause shall be amended.
 
xv. Create and maintain an up-to-date set of resources for school leaders and educators to grow in knowledge around matters of equity, access, and inclusion. Training topics should include dis/ability, gender, race/ethnicity, and other markers of identity and difference that may mobilize people to perform discriminatory, exclusionary, belittling, dehumanizing, or hateful actions against students in Milton’s care. These resources will be well-vetted by the equity director or superintendent designee and will be of high quality so that school leaders are prepared to respond with confidence and proficiency.
 
xvi. Direct schools to maintain spaces and procedure for addressing manifestations of stress and trauma for BIPOC students especially when these manifestations are externalized as “indiscipline” and even when students are not able to articulate this trauma themselves. As with other types of trauma, schools shall ensure at least one professional within the building is appropriately trained on differentiating the variety of factors that may become salient for a given community in a given context. For example, while our society places re-traumatizing or re-victimizing burdens constantly on students with disabilities and students of color, the way crises related to these realities are handled must take into account the specific group’s unique experience and potential cases of intersectionality (the compounding and unique consequences of more than one type of prejudice combined). While we acknowledge that prejudice shares the same root, some identities may put some individuals at a higher risk than others in different contexts.