On July 16, 2019, I attended the school board meeting to speak to the leaders at HCPS. I really hope that my message resonates with them to do what’s right. Here’s my message:
Thank you for giving me the space to express my concerns. I’m truly concerned about our kids in Hillsborough County Public Schools. The behavior problem and the learning gaps are increasing and it took my public resignation to find out the truth. I’ve been researching trying to come up with solutions, although I’m not receiving a six-figure salary that the taxpayers pay. The issues happening are steaming from inadequate plans to address desegregation back in 1958. My ancestors were fighting this district because our schools were not receiving equity in education as required by Federal Law. My understanding is this is still being looked at in 2019. I do not understand how an A school could be on the same street as F school. Not even 500 feet away.
What we are asking for is transparency and a game plan to address the issues happening. I attended the discipline workshop right here in this building. Just to catch the public up to speed, the district provided the board a PowerPoint that wasn’t posted on the website for easy accessibility. The school board could not do anything because the district didn’t provide any policy for them to do their job. Policy. It seems to be a disconnect with the roles and responsibilities and that is part of the problem.
In order to address the concerns, it first requires you to be honest and transparent with the public. Some of you are taking this personal, which resulted in me being retaliated against. Our students deserve justice. As a result, I’m asking you to do the right thing and prepare all our kids for life!
These are some of the solutions I hope you take into advisement:
1. Require leadership to be in the classroom modeling & teaching once per quarter. Also, be intentional with your leadership changes
2. Stop gaslighting teachers. Which means to stop blaming teachers for things that aren’t being addressed properly at the top.
3. Require cultural competency training because the demographic of teachers are still disproportionate.
4. We need to address trauma created by systemic oppression. This means first acknowledging that it’s a real thing. Next, stop disproportionately suspending our children when you are getting paid additional grant and federal funds to help them.
5. Develop individualized SEL support at each school site to meet and address the needs of students and parents on each campus. Create this with good intentions and be mindful of your vernacular as well.
6. Stop the “it starts from home” position blaming the parents. The same system that is failing our children is the same one that failed some of our parents.
7. My last suggestion: Create a collaborative environment to involve teachers and the community to avoid the groupthink logic within your organizational culture.
The district has been failing certain communities before 1958 and I hope to impact real change so that the other districts will follow and do what’s right! For ALL students! Thank you!