EducationThe Examiner

Pleasantville Schools Form Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee

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More than 100 Pleasantville School District residents have signed up to volunteer for the district’s new Diversity Equity and Inclusion Access (DEIA) Stakeholder Committee.

The group met for the first time on Dec. 20, and according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Tina DeSa, looked at its mission and beliefs, the strategies in the district’s strategic plan and the DEI resolution. It also engaged in discussion of equity and equality.

The Board of Education initially reached out to the community last October requesting that residents interested in serving on the DEIA committee submit an application form to the district. The form asked whether each applicant was a current student, district graduate or community member, why they were interested in participating and what they hoped to contribute. Alumni were also sent the form. The district received 114 responses.

DeSa said the committee will work with the district in carrying out part of the district’s 2026 Strategic Plan, a core document developed by more than 100 community members in 2013.

“The committee will partner with the district to identify opportunities for all children to have windows and mirrors within our schools – mirrors that reflect a child’s own culture and help them take pride in who they are and windows that allow for students to have a view into the experiences of people who are different from themselves,” DeSa said.

The district’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging resolution was adopted last February.

Although school board members discussed placing a cap on committee membership in the fall, DeSa said all 114 applicants are now considered committee members and will be invited to each meeting.

On Nov. 30, board member Jill Grossman was named board liaison to the DEIA Stakeholder Committee. Board President Shane McGaffey said the full committee will meet monthly and form smaller groups, each focusing on different equity and diversity issues. The meeting will culminate with each group presenting highlights of their discussions.

For several years, the district has partnered with a variety of outside organizations to bring age-appropriate instruction to students on topics such as bullying, hate, bias and the power of words. Working with the Antidefamation League (ADL), all three Pleasantville schools have participated in its No Place for Hate program that provided professional development training to faculty and staff and curriculum mapping. It also worked directly with students over a two-day intensive training session to develop student leaders.

The district has also been working with the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) in White Plains and the NYU Metro Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools. HHREC lessons about the Holocaust emphasize the importance of being treated with dignity and respect and encourage students to speak up and act against bigotry and prejudice.

Last January, nine Pleasantville Middle School students participated in the HHREC’s Human Rights Institute for Middle School Leaders, serving as role models to their peers and defending marginalized students.

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