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11 Apr Information from Superintendent Jara regarding issues related to Arbor View

Remarks from Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara regarding Arbor View High School at Thursday’s Board of School Trustees Meeting:

We continue to hear from and communicate with the students and impacted families from Arbor View High School who were victimized by racially-motivated hate statements.

We have heard outrage from the community, and I can tell you that the Trustees and I are outraged, as well. We can work together to ensure this does not happen again and our students all feel safe at school.

I want to provide an update tonight on what is happening at the school, as well as an update on the requests brought to this board by parents at our last board meeting.

First, all students who were targeted on the Instagram post have returned to Arbor View High School, and all parents of the targeted students have been contacted by administration multiple times.

We have offered free counseling through social workers to the affected students and their families.

We have identified a third party, the National Equity Project, based out of California, to provide cultural competency, implicit bias and racism training for the Arbor View High School Community. Beginning in April, a professional learning module will focus on Structural Racialization and Equity with key stakeholders from the community and school.

In May and June, structures to enhance student voices on campuses, feeder school problem of practice conversations, and a commitment to best practice research and literature will be work focused on by the National Equity Project.

In August, the National Equity Project will continue work with Arbor View High School to review data, assist faculty to:

  • Increase their own self-awareness of how their various social identities in terms of race, class, gender, language, etc. shaped their own educational experiences and shape their definitions of success and their interpretations of student behavior;
  • Build their knowledge of and reflect on the history of race, racism, and exclusion in the United States and build their skill for discussing this history with students in the context of lessons and class discussions;
  • Deconstruct, reflect on, and design lessons that support the active valuing, engagement, and development of the whole child.

All of this content will be provided while developing a repertoire of approaches for trust building across race, class, and culture.

The outside perspective will be critical, and we are committed — I am committed — to this engagement starting at Arbor View High School and expanding to other schools in the system.

As we look to create a cultural turnaround at the school, the principal is planning a Rachel’s Challenge Assembly at the school, plus a CultureFest later in April.

The principal also recruited a diverse committee to oversee curriculum developed for an Advisory Period where students will learn more about cultural competency and racism next school year.

My leadership team and I will monitor this situation closely, and we will keep Trustees and the community up to date.

On March 28th, the parents/guardians at Arbor View High School highlighted several requests to the Clark County School District Board of Trustees.

If we look at our data and our achievement/suspensions and expulsions this is decades old.

I have been in contact with former Secretary of Education John King to look at other options and possibilities that are out there.

I want to say once again that this issue is one of my top priorities. I have been meeting with community groups, and get daily updates on the progress from our school leaders. I will not stand for racism in our schools. I look forward to reporting on our progress in the coming months.

Additionally, CCSD staff and leadership have listened attentively to community concerns and have provided follow up to specific concerns expressed by parents two weeks ago:

  1. To expel the students who allegedly made the threats
    While privacy laws and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents administrators from disclosing discipline outcomes for students, I can attest that this issue was handled with a great amount of seriousness and alignment to policies regarding student conduct. The students who made the threats will not be returning to the Arbor View High School campus.
  2. To identify the students who allegedly made the threats
    Due to federal privacy laws, the District is unable to identify the youth involved in the incident.  If at any time a victim feels that escalation is occurring or hate continues to target them, the student could always contact school leadership as the first step, and our School Police Department is always ready to be involved if needed.
  3. Allow any affected student to transfer schools without concern about eligibility for athletics
    The District’s Athletic Office will work collaboratively with the school, impacted students, and the NIAA regarding any individual requests for athletic transfer.
  4. Ensuring safety on campus
    Arbor View High School’s Region Superintendent and School Associate Superintendent have worked diligently and, with great urgency, to monitor all safety protocols on the school campus.  Specific activities aligned to surveilling the parking lot and other specialized areas of the campus have been reviewed and implemented as a result of the parental feedback.
  5. Providing timely messaging to parents when their students are threatened
    Messaging and communication are both critical in relationship to the school and all parents. As a school system, we are reviewing the current Student Code of Conduct (which will be done in May) and will include victim parental notification procedures.  This will be a critical addition to the work.
  6. Request to create a crisis response team
    Our District Crisis Response Teams are always ready to respond to campus issues.  Racial crisis will be a part of future training for Crisis Response Team members from CCSD central services.
  7. Request to create cultural diversity classes
    We are working immediately to engage with the National Equity Project, a nationally respected organization that hits racism head on and provides external support and perspective to assist schools/communities that may have issues.
  8. Request to create a protocol for racialized acts against students
    This item again goes back to the Student Code of Conduct under current revision.  Racialized Acts and parental notification to victims and families will be an added part of the Student Code of Conduct. CCSD’s central team will work directly with families to determine what necessary information should be included in the Student Code of Conduct so that communication to families in timely.
  9. Request to put undercover officers on campus
    CCSD Police Department Chief Ketsaa is aware of the need for community policing and interventions at all schools.  While Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is not under the supervision of the Superintendent of Schools, the public should be assured that our Chief and School Police Department are reacting to assist the community and our schools.
  10. Ensuring that all family members, including the victim, is informed of the court dates before the hearings
    The media have made court dates public and CCSD is aware that the victims’ families attended the court hearing.  CCSD does not have any control over court dates.
  11. Request to provide mental health support for the victims involved
    CCSD professionals, including licensed social workers, have assisted families and victims at Arbor View High School.  If other school-based services are required, we encourage parents to contact the school principal as he has coordinated this response with licensed professionals serving in the areas of school psychology, counseling, and social work.
  12. To provide data on all racist incidents on school campuses
    We are pulling this data and ensuring that this data does not include any individualized student identifiable information. Additionally, as previously discussed the National Equity Project, which has been successful in Albuquerque Public Schools, Hayward Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, along with many other large school systems and organizations.  We will ensure that this partner (National Equity Project) reviews racist/racialized incidents at the micro (school-based) and macro level to focus intervention efforts. They “gather a range of qualitative and quantitative data to measure the program and impact.”

This is an issue that is my top priority. I have been meeting with community leaders and continue to get daily updates.

Jara also noted that support for schools to decrease the disproportionality among student groups in expulsions and suspensions will now be monitored closely by region superintendents, as well as decisions regarding major discipline concerns. Jara said this will ensure return on investment of dollars designed to reduce disproportionality and also ensure school leaders are held accountable for disproportionate discipline patterns.