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Residents speak about D&I program in Wylie ISD at Monday meeting

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Latest

Majority of speakers in favor of program; in statement, superintendent promises more transparency

Nearly two dozen people spoke in the public forum at the Wylie ISD board Monday night, with most speakers giving their support for the district’s nascent Diversity and Inclusion program.

At last month’s school board meeting, several residents criticized the D&I program, with many complaints centering on the program’s transparency. One speaker recommended the program, which began this year, be discontinued.

Many speakers at Monday’s meeting praised the D&I program – a few gave impassioned remarks – and urged educators to continue the program.

Resident Angela Beitelspacher said during Monday’s forum that the district needs to create awareness of the diversity in the school community and work toward a community that is inclusive of everyone.

“When I think of diversity awareness, I first think of racial and cultural awareness,” she said. “Over the past couple of years, I’ve read books and attended several classes sponsored by my church to broaden my understanding of the history and current environment of race in America. All of these activities have been so important for my own personal growth and understanding, and honestly have been life-changing for me. If these opportunities had not been available to me, I would have missed the ability to grow and learn and to pass my knowledge on to my children.”

She added that people need opportunities to build relationships and better understand others in the community, and she added that the D&I program has the opportunity to do that. 

A few people discussed their experiences in attending school here or working in the school district and remarked why they think the program has merit. And while most people spoke in support of the D&I program, a few others questioned the program’s purpose.

Wylie ISD Superintendent David Vinson released a statement to parents last week in which he outlined how the program will continue, and he accepted responsibility for how the program was implemented.

“I recognize that there has been some discomfort and concern about our district’s Diversity and Inclusion program,” Vinson said. “After listening to members of our community I understand the reasons for their discomfort and concern and accept responsibility. In retrospect, there should have been more of an effort for outreach to make sure that the goals, structure, training materials, and consultants of the program met with the support of the entire Wylie ISD community first. To that extent, I should have taken more time to explain and outline the program and its goals. I apologize. We are going to move forward with this program more inclusively and transparently. As always, I appreciate hearing from members of our community and value everyone’s input. I pledge to continue to have the best interests of our students, faculty, staff, and the Wylie community at heart as we move forward together because the heart of this program is important to me – this is the Wylie Way.”

He also stressed how the program was not part of the curriculum, that it is the “belief that everyone belongs and has value and that students and faculty excel when they feel valued and are part of a team.”

Also at the Monday meeting, the board approved revisions to student and faculty dress code and had a workshop about the upcoming school year budget.

Read more about the meeting in the April 28 edition of The Wylie News.

By Don Munsch [email protected]

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