DEI at Work: The Board of Trustees’ Commitment

in Fall/Winter 2020 by
Park’s building reaches skyward, embodying our commitment and aspirations. “Waves in Time” by Richard Duca, 1972.

The Park School Board of Trustees is actively committed to advancing the School’s work in fostering an anti-racist educational community. Among the Board’s leading priorities this year is supporting and monitoring the DEI Implementation Plan through targeted board development work and also through membership on the DEIIP Steering Committee. In addition, working with the Head of School and the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Board will draft and publish an equity and inclusion values statement clearly articulating the School’s commitment to anti-racism.

Another priority ahead involves analyzing student and school data in aggregate and disaggregated by race, culture, gender-identity, sexual orientation, family-structure, and socioeconomic status to track and measure student access and outcomes to ensure The Park School mission statement is accessible to all students. This data will inform our policies and practices going forward. 

As part of their efforts to support Scott Young in driving the Park mission forward, the members of the Board will prioritize the recruitment and inclusion of BIPOC Board members and will also engage in their own ongoing professional development. This year, the Board has committed to three professional development workshops focused on equity, inclusion, and relevant multicultural/diversity practices. As the Board’s June 19, 2020 letter to the community noted, such professional development work is important not only to model the Board’s commitment to fostering an anti-racist educational community through their actions, but also to develop their own cultural competencies as individuals and as a group. 

In the summer of 2020, the Board completed the first of three professional development sessions, which took the form of small group discussions centering on Ibram Kendi’s book, How to be an Anti-Racist. The small group discussions were facilitated by VISIONS, Inc., and centered on developing a common language of anti-racism as it applies to an educational setting. Specifically, the groups discussed that anti-racism work at Park requires more than just not being “racist.” Rather, anti-racist school leadership requires an active approach to deconstructing the behaviors, expectations, social patterns, and structures surrounding us that reinforce racism. 

In January, the trustees will participate in a second session, which will focus on the relationship between academic excellence and DEI/anti-racism. Specifically, trustees will examine how Park can advance its vision of academic excellence by centering anti-racism and culturally-sustaining pedagogy. John Palfrey, former head of school at Phillips Academy and currently president of the MacArthur Foundation, will join the session and share his own views on this essential topic, extending the conversation to the role of boards in supporting anti-racism in an educational setting.

A third session, to be scheduled in the spring, will build off these first two sessions on the Board’s role in supporting the School’s commitment to anti-racism.

As one member of the Board noted, “We are entering a new chapter of our DEI work. Park has long aspired to be a fully inclusive educational setting where all children can thrive, but we as a community have not had the tools and common language to do that. Scott is the right leader at the right time to advance this critical work. The Board looks forward to the work and the conversations ahead.”