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Ashland school staff almost 100% trained on equity issues

School district prides itself on near-universal completion of DEI training, which is not state requirement, superintendent says

Ashland School District students will get the day off Friday so teachers can receive diversity, equity and inclusion training, along with wellness training.

Friday’s in-service day will help the Ashland district reach the distinction of being the only K-12 entity in the state to have almost all of its employees — 419, so far — receive DEI training, according to a news release from Ashland schools Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove.

“I think it’s a really good first step in creating a school system that welcomes every student and gives every student what they need to achieve,” Bogdanove said of the district’s DEI distinction, when asked about it in an interview. “We know that, as a matter of race, students are more or less likely to graduate, and there’s a real problem with that, and that’s something we want to fix. So, moving to a dialogue where everybody in the district understands that that’s our goal is something I feel very positive about.”

According to the school district’s “at-a-glance” profile for the 2020-21 school year — the most recent data available — 74% of students and 89% of teachers are white.

Twelve percent of the district’s students identify as Hispanic/Latino, 11% as “multiracial” and 1% or less as Native American, Black, Asian or Pacific Islander. The at-a-glance profile does not provide graduation rates by ethnicity, but it did say 74% of ninth-graders are on track to graduate in four years, on par with the state average, and 94% of district students graduated on time, besting the state.

“I think it’s important for every staff (member) to understand the systemic barriers that have been put in place in a lot of our institutions, and schools being one of those,” Bogdanove said. “(Let’s start) to understand why those things are, so we can make some changes and remove some of the barriers to better support all of our kids.”

The DEI training Ashland educators will participate in Friday is not an Oregon Department of Education requirement for K-12 personnel, nor part of “Every Student Belongs,” which itself is a rule passed by ODE.

Friday’s in-service day is broken down into two parts: DEI training and wellness, Bogdanove explained.

The latter portion of the day will include free COVID-19 and flu shots offered by health care provider La Clinica, followed by three one-hour sessions of wellness-activity choices presented by approximately 30 local practitioners. Topics cover the five aspects of health: life purpose, social, emotional, physical and financial well-being, according to a district news release.

“I think wellness is something that we always have to consider,” Bogdanove said in an interview. “If you’re out there nurturing kids, you’ve got to make sure you take care of yourself in order to do that.”

Reach reporter Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or kopsahl@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.