Our effort to create and expand space for living under social justice ideals in SAU 16 engages all community members from the organization’s seven school districts. Collectively, we aim to ensure that our school system is an enterprise whose growth is undeterred by bias or discrimination, where individuals of all backgrounds and experiences are welcomed and where personal narratives are heard, included and valued. Part of our educational mission is to awaken our students’ awareness of their power and privilege so that they may view the world through a lens of equity and help eliminate unjust systems and practices. Our vision is that all students will grow with confidence, empathy and understanding of what is right so that they may advocate forthese ideals in their world.
SAU 16 holds as a core value the respect and celebration of all human differences. We believe it is our moral responsibility to share with our students and families their power to pursue justice for all people, especially people from historically marginalized communities. We are committed to taking risks and making mistakes, learning how to try on new ideas and perspectives and being vulnerable to opportunities in which we have no experience.
Operating under the umbrella of social justice, each SAU 16 school now has a DEIJ Team that works to advance the values of the organization in their school communities. Representatives from each school team collaborate on organizational goals that are developed to advance this work, and just recently the Exeter Region Cooperative School District hired a new director of these efforts to formally lead these teams. Andres Mejia brings impressive experience to his role as director of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, and soon will be facilitating community conversations that seek to inform, educate, and answer questions about how we are moving forward.
SAU 16 also addresses systems and structures through the Anti-Discriminatory Task Force (ADTF). The ADTF, established at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, is a collaboration of school system staff and community members from the Greater Exeter area who respond to cases of alleged discrimination in our schools. While not the primary investigators of school incidents, the ADTF reviews redacted information from school cases to determine root causes and makes recommendations for corrective action. Further, the ADTF is currently reviewing prevailing SAU 16 school board policies using a framework of bias and discrimination to offer suggestions and revisions accordingly.
These are a few of the examples of the steps we are taking to support our mission around DEIJ. They are initial building blocks that we will add to and expand upon in the coming months. Please continue to visit the SAU 16 website for updates and ways to engage in this critical discussion.
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