Mallory Herrmann

The Lee’s Summit R-7 Board of Education has passed a new equity plan with a unanimous vote on Feb. 21. After hearing from more than a dozen parents, educators and residents in favor of the LSR-7 Equity Plan, board members took the opportunity to voice their own support before holding the vote.

Approval of the plan comes after months of heated discourse about equity, achievement gaps and racial bias in the school district.

The plan outlines six goals that touch on leadership, professional development, curriculum, student support, parent engagement, and recruitment and hiring. Specific action items such as selecting an equity consultant to work with district leadership, conducting district equity community forums, and increasing partnerships with diverse organizations to strengthen potential candidate groups have timelines ranging from March 2019 to July 2020.

Dr. Dennis Carpenter, superintendent, acknowledged that some have suggested the plan doesn’t do enough to provide long-term progress or that it’s just an echo of past equity-related statements from the district. But he encouraged the community to see equity work as a journey and that, unlike in the past, the board and district leadership needed to stay committed to that journey – even when the work gets uncomfortable.

“We’re still having these conversations because we abandoned the work,” Carpenter said. “When we do that, we do that on the backs of young people.”

Carpenter said one of the challenges we face with this work is setting goals that aren’t ambitious enough to affect change – or setting goals that are too aggressive and cause people to give up on the process. He said he looks forward to this plan expanding as the district makes progress.