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 transparency, hiring and training, restorative justice practices, inclusive 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 webinars. Although we will continue our COVID-19 school–law 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 success. We will identify the key legal issues that every equity administrator should know, and 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.
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.