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Franczek Educational Equity Webinar Series – Join Us On Zoom!

Racial injustice has taken center stage this year, and the urgency to address the institutional norms and structures within our public education systems that prevent students of Color from having access to the same educational opportunities as their White peers is all the more imperative. We stand with our clients who are working tirelessly to eradicate racism within their school systems and to ensure that all students are afforded equal opportunities to succeed, and we strive to support you in this critical work. This work is a daily and ongoing commitment and we are pleased to announce the launch of our monthly webinar series for 2021 focused exclusively on educational equity issues. We will explore how school districts can identify and break down systemic barriers that are depriving students of equitable educational opportunities, more intentionally allocate resources based on need, and use the law as a driver for internal reforms to support our most vulnerable student populations. We will invite educational leaders from throughout Illinois to join us in these discussions so we can all hear directly from those working to eradicate barriers within their school districts and build systems that honor all voices and support all students. Together, we will work through issues such as community and board buy-in, data analysis and transparencyhiring and training, restorative justice practicesinclusive and critical curriculum, and the many other ways that race and education intersect.  

Our clients and friends are accustomed to spending the noon hour with Franczek’s K-12 education team on Thursdays for our COVID-19 and School Law Conference webinarsAlthough we will continue our COVID-19 schoollaw webinars most Thursdays, we will offer equity-focused webinars during the noon timeslot on the second Thursday of each month in 2021. The following sessions will kick off the equity webinar series:  

January 14, 2021 at 12 p.m.

How are School Districts Addressing Issues of Racial Equity? 

From board policies, implicit bias training, and reforming curriculum and instructional practices to ongoing student and community discussions around race, school districts throughout the state are working to address issues of racial equity on a daily basis. We will begin our equity webinar series by focusing on the ways school districts are approaching this important work, including the role of boards and administrators in setting leadership goals, programming and initiatives for students and teachers, addressing biases within systems, and the role of the community. Franczek attorneys will be joined by guest speakers Dr. Marcus Campbell, Assistant Superintendent and Principal at Evanston Township High School District 202, and Dr. Devon Horton, Superintendent at Evanston/Skokie Community Consolidated School District 65. 

February 11, 2021 at 12 p.m.

Role of the Equity Administrator 

While most school administrators are being urged to keep issues of equity at the forefront as they implement their respective roles, many boards have taken the step of creating administrative positions exclusively focused on issues of equity and diversity. During this session, we will discuss the equity administrator role, including training, role responsibilities, and successful equity initiatives, as well as the challenges administrators can face in achieving successWe will identify the key legal issues that every equity administrator should knowand hear from guest speakers Dr. Teresa A. Lance, Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Innovation at School District U-46, and Adrian Harries, Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Community Unit School District 300.  

March 11, 2021 at 12 p.m. 

Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining Diverse Teachers and Administrators 

Diversity and inclusion goals established within your school district for recruitment, hiring, and retention are keys to improving district diversity and support for all students. In this session, we will discuss the benefits of diversity in the workplace, reducing bias in recruiting and hiring, supporting diverse employees in the workplace, and best practices for navigating the legal issues surrounding these initiatives.  

Thursday, April 8, 2021 12 p.m.

Implementing Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Expanding Opportunities for Advanced Coursework

What is included in your curriculum? What is left out? Who is telling the story? This month our Equity Webinar will focus on curriculum. The content and instructional methods used in classrooms play a critical role in creating an educational environment that welcomes students with different identities and experiences, provides students with historical context for current events, develops critical thinking and collaboration skills, and prepares students to thrive in a multicultural society. The way students are grouped and tracked for learning also has significant implications related to expectations, perceptions, and ultimately achievement. We will be focusing on both the substance of the curriculum and removing barriers to students’ access to higher-level academic coursework. Moderators Amy Dickerson and Kendra Yoch are pleased to be joined by partner Dana Fattore Crumley, as well as Dr. Michael Lubelfeld, Superintendent at North Shore School District 112, and Dr. Nick Polyak, Superintendent at Leyden High School District 212.

Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 12 PM

Supporting English Language Learners

This month our Educational Equity webinar will continue discussing curriculum and instruction with a focus on meeting the needs of English language learners. We will be joined by Yesenia Sanchez, Chief Academic Officer at North Chicago School District 187, and Dr. Annette Acevedo, English Language Learner Program Director at School District U-46, as well as our partner Michael Hernandez, with Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson serving as moderators. We will discuss both the legal issues and the substantive practices central to providing equitable, robust programming for students with diverse language backgrounds.

Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 12 p.m.

Addressing Disproportionality and Increasing Equity and Inclusion

This month our Educational Equity webinar will discuss special education, specifically disproportionality related to the identification of students with disabilities, placement of students in restrictive settings, and exclusionary discipline of students with disabilities. We are pleased to have with us Cheryl Caesar, Assistant Director of Diverse Learners at Waukegan Community Unit School District 60; Jeremy Duffy, Senior Legal Compliance Officer also at Waukegan School District; and Dr. Jennifer Sterpin, Director of Special Education for Lake Forest High School District 115. Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson will serve as moderators. Special education has a relatively unique legal requirement obligating school districts to review data related to student race and ethnicity and take steps to address significant disproportionalities. In this session, we will look at steps districts can take to prevent and minimize disproportionality, including strengthening MTSS, staff training, inclusive placement practices, and restorative disciplinary practices.

Thursday, July 8, 2021 at 12 p.m.

Addressing Disproportionality in Student Discipline and Best Practices for Nondiscriminatory Discipline

This month our Educational Equity webinar will focus on student discipline, specifically racial disparities and disproportionality in exclusionary discipline, relationships with SROs, and improving school climate. We are thrilled to have Dr. Jerry Anderson, Principal at Bloom High School in Bloom Township High School District 206, and Dr. Ellen Swanson, Assistant Superintendent for Student Services in Des Plaines School District 62, join us for this webinar. Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson will serve as moderators and Emily Tulloch will highlight legal considerations. Recent data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) reveals continued disproportionality in school discipline responses, particularly when comparing Black and White students and in relation to students with disabilities. In this session, we will discuss steps school districts can take to comply with legal requirements, avoid liability, and combat disproportionality, including through the use of restorative disciplinary practices, staff training, and culturally responsive instruction.

Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 12 p.m.

Engaging and Re-engaging Students and Families for 2021-2022

This month our Educational Equity webinar will focus on engaging and reengaging students and families following the disruptions over the last year and a half. We are excited to welcome Dr. Zakieh Mohammed, Senior Manager for Attendance and Truancy, Office of Student Support and Engagement; Adrian Segura, Interim Chief Officer for Family and Community Engagement; and Claire Bohmann, Manager for Students in Temporary Living Situations, all of the Chicago Public Schools. The work of engaging students and families in the school community is always critical. And after more than a year of remote and hybrid learning through a pandemic that brought disruptions to all aspects of life, reconnecting with and supporting students is more important than ever. Chicago Public Schools is undertaking enormous projects to reach thousands of families to get students back into school and connected with needed supports. Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson will serve as moderators as we discuss strategies and legal considerations related to re-engaging students, especially those who have been truant and those who are experiencing homelessness.

Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 12 p.m.

Equity Priorities for 2021-2022

This month our Educational Equity webinar will focus on setting priorities and plans for the new school year. We are excited to welcome Dr. Valerie McCall, Director of Educational Equity at West Aurora School District 129, and Nate Rouse, Director of Equity, Race, and Cultural Diversity Initiatives at Barrington School District 220. Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson will serve as moderators as we discuss the process of setting priorities, engaging stakeholders, and building equity into the fabric of the district. Our guests will talk about the role of equity audits; developing the capacity and participation of students, staff, and community; and overcoming barriers that impede progress toward established goals. Please send your questions our way and join us for an engaging discussion.

Thursday, October 27, 2021 at 12 p.m.

School and District Equity Leadership Teams

This month our Educational Equity webinar will feature school districts with district- and school-level diversity and equity leadership teams, led by teachers and administrators throughout the district community. We are excited to welcome Mr. Tony Medina, Principal at Palatine High School in Township High School District 211; Dr. Rob Lang, Assistant Superintendent for Staff Services at Community High School District 99; Dr. Shawn Messmer, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Innovation at Maine Township High School District 207, and Franczek Partner Michael Hernandez. Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson will serve as moderators as we discuss the models utilized at each of our speakers’ districts; strategies for engaging a variety of stakeholders; maintaining strong leadership, momentum, and continuity; and legal considerations for decentralized models. We will also take a closer look at the equity goals contained in ISBE’s 2020-2023 strategic plan, including the plan for incorporating an Equity Journey Continuum tool into each district’s public report card by the 2022 reporting year. Please send your questions our way and join us for an engaging discussion.

Tuesday, November 29, 2021 at 12 p.m.

Supporting Students Reaching Their Post-Secondary Goals

This month our Educational Equity webinar will dive into ways that schools can support students in exploring and securing post-secondary options and in taking steps to reach their college and career goals in ways that are inclusive and equity-driven. We are excited to welcome Aide Acosta, Chief College Officer at Noble Network of Charter Schools, and Candace Kyles, Senior Director of College Graduation Office at University of Chicago Charter School. Kendra Yoch and Amy Dickerson will serve as moderators as we discuss schools’ strategies for preparing students for success after high school and supporting students in building foundations and connections to expand opportunities. Our panelists will also talk about the support they provide to alumni to increase student perseverance through college and to family-sustaining employment. Please send your questions our way and join us for an engaging discussion.

Thursday, December 9, 2021, at 12 p.m.

Evidence Based Funding

This month our Educational Equity webinar will focus on resources. Inequitable funding impacts educational programming and student outcomes. Illinois has historically had one of the most inequitable distribution of education dollars in the country. In this session, we will explore how the Evidence Based Funding formula works and the impact since the legislation passed in 2017. We are happy to welcome Robin Steans and Melissa Figueira of Advance Illinois to help us understand the nuts and bolts of the funding formula. We are also excited to welcome Dr. Chuck Lane, Superintendent of Centralia High School District, and Dr. Kimako Patterson, Superintendent of Prairie-Hills School District 144, to discuss the impact that the new formula has had on their districts and their efforts to advance equity. Finally, we’ll preview proposed changes to school funding that are on the horizon. Franczek partners Amy Dickerson and Kendra Yoch will serve as moderators. Please send your questions our way and join us for an engaging discussion of this critical issue.

If you have questions for our panelists, suggestions for topics to address, or ideas for speakers, please reach out to us at,, or