POLICY #4118.3
 
NORWICH FREE ACADEMY
INCLUSION, EQUITY & DIVERSITY POLICY
 
 
Purpose
Every student deserves a respectful learning environment in which their cultural, racial and ethnic diversity is valued and contributes to successful academic outcomes. The Norwich Free Academy is committed to identifying and correcting practices and policies that perpetuate the achievement gap and institutional racism in all forms in order to provide all of its students with the opportunity to succeed. Learning and work environments are enriched and improved by the contributions, perspectives and very presence of diverse participants. NFA is committed to the success of every student in each of our schools and to our mission and vision statements.
 
The Board of Trustees (Board) believes that the responsibility for student success is broadly shared by staff, families, our community and our student's own efforts. Achievement gaps between white students and students of color are unacceptable if we are to meet our mission and vision statements and our moral obligations to our students, their families and our community as a whole. These gaps are contrary to our belief that all children can learn and succeed. Adult behaviors must not contribute to achievement gaps or create barriers to success. Adult behaviors must be concentrated on elimination of gaps, particularly those that are predicated on a student's race, ethnicity, home language, personal characteristics or culture and on assurance of educational equity between students. The Board, Head of School and staff commit to conducting an equity and diversity impact assessment on all future policies that have a significant impact on student learning and resource allocation. This commitment also includes conducting assessments on policies that are periodically reviewed and updated through the policy development process that have a significant impact on student learning and resources allocation.
The diversity of our student body, our community and our staff is a strength of this school that should be fostered. Educational equity benefits all students and our entire community.
 
The purpose of this policy is to establish a framework for the elimination of bias, particularly racism and cultural bias, as factors affecting student achievement and learning experiences, and to promote learning and work environments that welcome, respect and value diversity. Further the purpose is to establish particular actions that the School shall take to address disparities in educational opportunity and achievement.
 
Definitions
 
For the purposes of this policy the following terms shall have these meanings:
A. "Diversity" includes characteristics of persons including, but not limited to race, culture, color, creed or religion, national origin, gender, mental and physical ability, age, marital status, family structure, citizenship status, sexual orientation, sexual expression or identity, economic status, veteran's status, and any other protected class in conformance with federal, state and local laws.
 
B.  "Staff" includes all employees, consultants and contractors of the Norwich Free Academy.
 
C. "Educational equity" means raising the achievement of all students while (1) narrowing the gaps between the lowest and highest performing students, and (2) eliminating the racial or cultural predictability and disproportionality of which student groups occupy the highest and lowest achievement categories including rates of graduation.
 
D.  "Institutional racism" means the collective failure of a public or private organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their race, color, culture or ethnic origin which can be seen or detected in practices, processes, systems, attitudes and behavior. It looks beyond individual acts of prejudice to the systemic biases that may be built into institutions. These systemic biases discriminate against and disadvantage people of color through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness or racial stereotyping.
 
General Statement of Policy
A.  NFA welcomes, respects and values the diversity of its students, parents, staff and the broader community.
B.  The following are established as school values:
1.  All students deserve optimal treatment, opportunities and education.
2.  All students and their families have dignity and worth.
3.  All students are equally, while differently, gifted.
4.  Academic and participation outcomes, not intentions, shall be the measure of whether we are successful.
5.  Inclusion of all students and families supports school goals to increase student engagement and academic performance.
6.  Embracing our diversity through inclusion creates an environment that leverages that diversity and creates schools where students, families, community members, and employees feel welcomed, valued, supported, and where students and staff can perform to their personal bests.
C.  The school is committed to advancing optimum participation in, contribution to, benefit from and enjoyment of learning and work experiences by diverse students, parents, staff and community.
D.  The school is committed to promoting and providing equitable distribution of resources, opportunities, facilities and supports, even when this means differentiating resource allocations on the basis of student needs. Resource allocation shall support the definition of educational equity adopted in this policy while complying with state and federal funding mandates.
E.  The school shall employ staffing processes that support and engender racial, gender, and language diversity in its staff through recruitment, employment, training and retention of employees. It is important that children of all races, cultures, and backgrounds are provided with familiar role models in schools. The recruitment of diverse teachers and staff provides all students with a better chance of seeing themselves as part of the education system. Diversity in education provides all children with the opportunity to learn from others with dissimilar backgrounds and recognizes the value of diversity in all learning environments. The school is committed to increasing the recruitment and retention of highly qualified diverse staff. The school is committed to fostering a learning environment where diversity is encouraged and to recruiting and retaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of our students and community. The Board is committed to hiring the best employees of all racial and ethnic backgrounds who will bring their unique talents and skills into the school system.
F.  The school shall offer opportunities for all staff to improve its cultural competencies in serving a diverse student body and community. The District staff shall work together to increase their individual and collective capacity to effectively teach a culturally, racially and ethnically diverse student population and serve culturally, racially and ethnically diverse families and communities. The School shall offer opportunities for all staff to improve culturally responsive instructional practices, curriculum, and assessments competencies in serving our diverse student body and community to increase individual and collective capacity to effectively teach our diverse student population and serve diverse families. Practices, procedures and programs that result in over or under representation of any group of students compared to peers shall be subject to close review to assure that such results are due to meeting student legitimate educational, social or emotional needs. Practices that do not meet this close review shall be eliminated. Teachers, administrators and school staff shall collaborate to establish and implement culturally responsive instructional practices, curriculum and assessments.
G.  The School shall promote the diversification of its vendor and supplier corps in accordance with law and school policy.
H.  The School shall provide professional development to teaching staff specifically designed to strengthen employee's knowledge and skills for eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps between groups of students.
I.  The School shall seek partnerships with outside agencies, organizations and persons who have demonstrated culturally specific expertise to assist the School in meeting its equitable education and business goals, including, but not limited to: (1) government agencies, (2) non-profit organizations, (3) businesses,  and (4) other community groups that support educational equity and cultural competencies.
 
Responsibility
 
A.  The Board shall consider the values stated in this policy in conducting its business and in exercising its responsibilities to the people of this community.
B.  The Head of School shall establish in accordance with this policy such plans and procedures as may be necessary and appropriate to accomplish its purpose and intent. Plans and procedures established shall include clear accountability for actions and oversight.
C.  The Head of School may promulgate regulations for the implementation of this policy as deemed necessary.
D.  The Board and Head of School may establish specific goals to implement this policy as permitted by law and deemed necessary.
E.  The Head of School shall annually report to the Board and the community regarding School performance goals on academic achievement and progress toward meeting these goals and closing the achievement gap. The report will also highlight discrepancies between the targets set and actual performance when applicable. This annual public report shall include an equity and diversity impact assessment that demonstrates policies with the least disparate impact have been adopted by the School.
F.  School staff shall within the parameters of their various duties and responsibilities comply with and execute such plans as are designed to address the values and directions included in this policy. School staff is further responsible to make such suggestions to the appropriate authority to improve the ability of the School to reduce the achievement and opportunity gaps that exist.
G.  Families are partners with the School in its effort to address achievement and opportunity gaps.
H.  Students are partners in their academic achievement. School attendance and engagement are essential to reduce achievement and opportunity gaps that exist.
I.  The Board, Head of School and employees will work with students and families to identify barriers to achievement and opportunities for academic success.

 
Legal Reference:  Connecticut General Statutes
46a 60 Discriminatory employment practices prohibited.
10-15c Discrimination in public schools prohibited. School attendance by five-year olds. (Amended by P.A. 97-247 to include "sexual orientation" and P.A. 11-55 to include "gender identity or expression")
10-153 Discrimination on account of marital status.
17a-101 Protection of children from abuse.
Connecticut State Board of Education "Position Statement on Culturally Responsive Education," adopted May 4, 2011
Title VII, Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq.
29 CFR 1604.11, EEOC Guidelines on Sex Discrimination.
Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.
34 CFR Section 106.8(b), OCR Guidelines for Title IX.
Definitions, OCR Guidelines on Sexual Harassment, Fed. Reg. Vol 62, #49, 29 CFR Sec. 1606.8 (a0 62 Fed Reg. 12033 (March 13, 1997) and 66 Fed. Reg. 5512 (January 19, 2001)
Section 8525, ESEA as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act
Meritor Savings Bank. FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986)
Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, No. 97-282 (U.S. Supreme Court, June 26,1998)
Gebbser v. Lago Vista Indiana School District, No. 99-1866, (U.S. Supreme Court, June 26,1998)
Davis v. Monro County Board of Education, No. 97-843, (U.S. Supreme Court, May 24, 1999.)
The Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Act of 1974, as amended, 38 U.S.C. §4212
Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008
The Americans with Disabilities Act as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008
Public Law 111-256
Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory 128 S.Ct. 2395, 76 U.S.L.W. 4488 (2008)
Federal Express Corporation v. Holowecki 128 S.Ct. 1147, 76 U.S.L.W. 4110 (2008)
Kentucky Retirement Systems v. EEOC 128 S.Ct. 2361, 76 U.S.L.W. 4503 (2008)
Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn 128 S.Ct. 1140, 76 U.S.L.W. 4107 (2008)
Policy adopted:  September 21, 2021
 
 
  • 4118.3