District » Equity & Inclusion

Equity & Inclusion

 
Hermosa Beach is committed to help all students thrive by providing a learning environment that promotes inclusivity, celebrates diversity, and inspires all students to maximize their potential. This is a key goal of the district for the 2022-2023 school year and beyond.
 
Our goal is to help students think critically, listen openly, collaborate effectively, and be good global citizens. Hermosa Beach schools are working to ensure that policies, programming, and curriculum are updated to align with this mission by working to remove educational barriers for students who face challenges based on gender, identity, disability, language, race, ethnicity, economic status, family model and more.
 
Upon the committee's recommendation, the Board of Education adopted the HBCSD Equity and Inclusion Action Plan on July 13, 2022. Click here to read the action plan.
 
A committee of stakeholders (students, alumni, parents, staff, and Board representative) meet monthly to review plans and provide input/feedback. Below are committee members for 2022-2023 and for meeting agenda/minutes, see attachments at the bottom of this page: 
 
Genevieve Pujalet (Parent)
Lisa Woomer (Parent)
Sten Ensberg (Parent)
Anna Voight (Parent)
Melisa Galvan (Parent)
Andria Watkins (Staff)
Luke Palmer (Staff)
Ashley Schwenn (Staff) 
Nevada Laue (Student)
Chloe Chao (Student)
Eva Asiddao (Student Alumni)
Jen Cole (Board Member)
Hillary Overbeck (Principal)
Jason Johnson (Superintendent)
Equity & Inclusion Committee News 
 
The Equity & Inclusion Committee held its first monthly meeting of the new school year on September 20, 2022. The committee is comprised of administrators, counselors, a board member, teachers, students, parents, and an alumna. After initial introductions, discussion topics included the following:
 
  • Historical review of the E & I Committee, which was born out of the Equity Task Force recommendations from the 2020-2021 school year.
  • The Committee Action Plan for 2022-2023, which was approved by the school board over the summer, and its 10 objectives:
  1. Equity & Inclusion Committee monthly meetings and review of programs and data
  2. F & P Benchmark Assessment: implement F & P reading assessment system for grades TK-5 and build staff expertise in reading instruction and parent education to support
  3. Panorama Assessment: implement the Panorama survey (bi-annual) for grades 3-8, staff, and parents to assess equity, inclusion, and diversity outcomes.  Discussed need for fewer surveys and ones packed with most punch.
  4. Tri Benchmark System: maintain and evaluate data from various assessments in core subjects with the goal of moving toward more personalized learning
  5. Equity Dashboard: Publicly monitor progress toward E & I goals
  6. Professional Development: develop culturally aware and responsive classrooms through UCLA Center X training and consultation; for example, are teachers 'reading the room' and holding that in mind when teaching? Student surveys will be an important gauge here, and students can let us know if they feel that they're learning in a safe space.
  7. Responsive Campuses: align schoolwide programs/themes/assemblies with cultural awareness and in collaboration with the Committee; incorporating monthly cultural themes into classroom is a work in progress for staff, and student Committee members offered suggestions on making themes more prominent, such as playing music from each highlighted culture, etc.
  8. Trauma Support: develop staff capacity to support students in response to traumatic events which affect students on and off campus (such as world news events, suicide training, etc)
  9. Small Group Instruction: implement small group instruction to reduce the percentage of students performing below grade level, specifically targeting students with special needs, ESL students, and students with socio-emotional needs.
  10. Personalized Learning: explore opportunities for personalized learning and cultivating deeper student engagement
  • Discussion of an end of year culminating Committee project (mural?) and assignment of subcommittee leaders, such as group project, communications, meeting minutes, assemblies, etc.
  • The E & I Committee will next meet on October 18, 2022.
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The Equity & Inclusion Committee met in May and June with meetings to focus on next steps for 2022-2023. The Committee put forth recommendations which were adopted by the Board of Education on July 13, 2022 where the action plan can be found here. Next year's focus will be on community leadership, data-driven approach and achievement and wellness for all. 
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The Equity & Inclusivity Committee met in March and April, with meetings largely focused on survey data, LBGTQ+ support, Culturally Appropriate Responses, and our action plan for next year. These two most recent discussions included the following items:
  • Superintendent Johnson provided an explanation of the Healthy Kids survey while Principal Tanita noted that the Panorama survey gives more actionable data.
  • Meaningful participation is a new measure on the Healthy Kids survey. Hermosa numbers are actually higher than average for the state.
  • Committee members expressed concern over 18% of Hermosa children reporting seeing a weapon at school and school safety concerns ranking higher than expected on the Vista staff survey. Superintendent Johnson and Principal Tanita posited that a) it’s not clear how weapon is defined on the survey and b) that staff safety concerns are likely due to a few isolated, severe student behavioral issues that have now been addressed.
  • Principal Tanita described the SEL curriculum to the group. The counselors at both sites are creating Screencastify videos to make the lessons accessible to all classes. Classroom teachers also use mindfulness lessons from Mind Up.
  • The Committee discussed Colonial Day and the fifth grade’s decision to rename the event and brainstormed about upcoming traditions in the district that may need some advance attention and discussion. Could we have some period clothing “loaners” for children who would like to participate, but do not have the means or support? This group will continue looking at these events through the equity lens.
  • The Committee reviewed Panorama survey results
    • Discussed reducing frequency of survey and reviewed a topline of the results
    • Learned that Behavior/Social Skills Training and Social Circles training helps develop school readiness for youngest students
    • Staff had requested more support for students who have skill gaps from being out of school due to Covid19.
  • Reviewed LGBTQ+ & Campus Support
    • What support are we offering for students who identify as LBGTQ+? Not enough specific supports in place yet for students 
    • Identified need to speak with members of LBGTQ+ community for ideas; need to look at our policies; PE uniforms; changing rooms; parental support; staff support; looking at other schools to understand the work that has been done; language of understanding; having a safe environment/club/affinity groups; when do you ask re: identity pronouns
    • Identified need to observe what other middle schools are doing- and what is the developmentally appropriate age to introduce policy/language, etc.?
  • Superintendent Johnson asked whether a Ukraine response is necessary from the district.
    • Do we consider a response due to traumatic events happening in the media and remind parents and students of the supports that the community provides? 
    • Is it appropriate to respond to the crisis in Ukraine despite not responding to other world conflicts (e.g. Syria, Ethiopia)
    • Looking at what conversation has been happening in Middle School
  • The Committee brainstormed E&I Action Plans and Next Steps
    • Looking at some of the additions for next year- or changes?
    • Building on the foundation that equity work benefits all students by fostering community, creating space for respectful dialog, and building more lifelong skills
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Our Equity & Inclusivity Committee met on February 15. Discussion included the following topics:
  • Brief review of Equity Dashboard and Goals 
  • Committee member and MCHS student Eva Asiddao described school/Dr. Gerger response to recent MCHS incident where swastika stickers and anti-Semitic epithets were found on campus. Committee members posed questions and examined appropriate response options. 
  • Brainstormed various ways of teaching/working toward tolerance, including Museum of Tolerance field trips, tools for educators (suggestion was made to review ADL website), and empowering students to speak up and out
  • Discussed need to update Safety/Crisis Response, which currently focuses on fire drills. Fire is no longer a strong threat to schools, while active shooter drills are now more necessary. Superintendent Johnson discussing revisions with local first response authorities. 
  • Committee heard update/notes on Culturally Responsive Practices Professional Development with Dr. Orange. Umbrella term of equity simply means finding opportunities for student engagement via the different lenses each has, honoring individual learning styles, and creating space for participation. 
    Dr. Orange receiving high marks from our teaching staff—4 out of 5 via survey. 
  • Committee member and 4th grade teacher Jen Cederquist took Committee through example of how the Responsive Specialist team gave staff tools for teaching during Black History month via book titles and art history lessons. 
  • Committee urged to brainstorm assembly/guest speaker ideas. 
Our next meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 15. 
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The E & I Committee met on January 18. Topics included further discussion of the Equity Dashboard draft, Panorama survey results, and the Response Procedure.
 
Specifics included the following:
  • A review of the Equity Dashboard draft. Committee posed questions about clarity and format in an effort to simplify it.
  • A review of the Panorama Survey, namely: 
    1. Insight on history of SEL curriculum in schools and outcomes
    2. Sense of Belonging, diversity and inclusion responses from last year to this year
    3. Inquiry as to whether grade 3 results reflected the challenge of changing school sites
    4. A breakdown of survey questions and responses and change over time
    5. A breakdown of free written responses--example: "what makes you feel happiest"
    6. A explanation of HBCSD Multiple Tier System of Support and what has been added for students, staff, and families in recent years
    7. Discussion regarding need for more connection between students and adults on campus and the possibility of bringing local coach Mike Spicer on board to work with Middle School boys
  • A review of the Response Procedure and discussion about whether it's possible to truly create a formal procedure for local and global event response or whether it's better to focus on adding age-appropriate current issues into the curriculum and giving teachers ongoing training and tools for managing student concerns in a culturally responsive and appropriate manner. 
In conclusion, the Committee agreed that these procedures and programs are works in progress, and that ongoing review of responses and survey results will be important to meeting the district's E & I/SEL goals.
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The December meeting of the E & I Committee focused on reviewing the committee’s objectives and goals for the 2021-22  school year, a discussion of the Equity & Inclusion Dashboard, and a discussion of Response Procedure.
Review of the committee’s objectives indicated that we are on track with 11 out of 12 goals and behind with confirming our Communication Procedure
 
The E & I Dashboard tracks data—via student surveys and various assessments—related to social emotional wellness, diversity and inclusion, and achievement for all. It is a tool for determining where inequities exist within the district. Recent dashboard data indicated:
  • Steady attendance rate of 95-96%
  • An increase in favorable responses to diversity questions in all grades but 3rd
  • An increase in favorable response to social emotional questions in grades 6-8 only.
 
The Committee’s discussion of Response Procedure included:
  • Distinguishing between a national news event vs a local protest event
  • Response when a staff member repeatedly uses the incorrect pronoun for a transgender student
  • Response when a student uses a racial epithet toward another student in a campus hallway
 
Our next meeting will be held in mid-January.
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The E & I Committee’s November meeting focused on reviewing iReady performance data and discussing the most recent draft of the Response Procedure Matrix. Discussion included:
  • Analysis of iReady data, namely changes from previous year and additional information still needed
    Overall:
    • Students at or above grade level decreased in both reading and math
    • Students one grade level below increased on both reading and math
    • Students two or more grade levels below decreased in reading and improved in math
    • African American students and English learners improved in reading
    • Biggest areas of concern are Special Education students and math performance of African American students and English learners.
      • It was noted that due to number of African American students and English learners being relatively low in our district, a change for even one student can significantly affect overall percentages for each group
    • Committee determined it would be helpful to compare changes over several years to see if percentage of changes is consistent from year to year
  • Committee teachers Mary Lee Delk and Ali Peng offered feedback on the recent UCLA Center X Responsive Teaching Professional Development workshop attended by district teachers. Both found the speaker engaging and knowledgeable regarding culturally responsive practices in the classroom.
  • We reviewed the working Response Procedure DRAFT and shared previous classroom and district experiences managing impactful news stories in our community and globally. 
  • Our next Committee meeting takes place December 14.
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The Equity & Inclusivity Committee met on October 19 to discuss culturally responsive practices. Our participants explored the following topics:
  • Feedback on 2 articles regarding culturally responsive instruction, where educators tailor instruction to be mindful of barriers affecting student achievement and utilize cultural referents to impart knowledge and skills.
  • A review of the HBCSD partnership with UCLA Center X to provide teachers with three sessions of professional development this year focused on responsive teaching strategies and meeting unique needs of students
  • Teachers reflected on commonly used strategies for meeting the individual needs of their students and creating a supportive classroom environment
  • Parents and students gave examples of how various classroom strategies and inclusivity programs did or did not meet the needs of the student
  • A student addressed the needs of shy students like herself and offered that some children have a voice that isn't necessarily verbal and may rely on art, music, etc to express themselves
  • Teachers and administrators recalled past experiences /news items that required a district response or led to organic in-class discussion
  • How we define when to respond to a breaking story, how to appropriately respond, and how to vary by grad
    Action items for our district:
  • Determine how to evaluate which equity and inclusivity initiatives are working and which are not
  • Create Response Guidelines--perhaps a leveled response or response matrix--in the wake of important news stories and events
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HBCSD is working on a partnership with the UCLA Teacher Development Program to provide three sessions of professional development this school year. The purpose of this professional development is support for our teachers to provide responsive teaching strategies to all students and their unique individual needs. CLICK HERE to review the professional development plan. 
 
Our August and September meetings included:
  • Member introductions and review of last year’s Equity Task Force findings and recommendation
  • E & I Committee mission and 12 crucial areas to meet progress toward our goals
  • Review of various assessments and surveys; the importance of gathering data and testing students in multiple ways to get an accurate picture of how we are meeting student needs
  • Review/Explanation of CA State Dashboard and its purpose
  • Discussion of the CA Healthy Kids Survey and how to capture accurate data on younger students’ school experiences
  • Thoughts/questions on appropriate timing/language of district response to culturally sensitive news issues and how to effectively give staff tools for culturally responsive practices
  • Defining what it means to prepare 21st Century citizens: offering students a diversity of experiences in school, teaching collaboration, etc.
  • Review of Schoolwide Themes & Activities Calendar/ Offering feedback and questions
  • Our school programs fostering diversity awareness and empathy in September included Hispanic Heritage Month and a week of Start with Hello inclusion activities. October will be Bullying Prevention Month. To view the full themes calendar, CLICK HERE.  
Equity and Inclusion - An FAQ
 
What are Hermosa Schools doing to support equity and inclusion?
Hermosa Beach has made a commitment to support students by providing a more equitable education and inclusive culture. We believe diversity and inclusion enrich education and help us achieve our mission to provide a relevant education in an inclusive environment.
 
What does this initiative look like?
The work of equity helps remove obstacles that impact academic success for students who face challenges based on gender, identity, disability, language, race, ethnicity, economic status, family model, and more. We validate each and every student and proactively work toward providing class environments and instruction where all have the opportunity to succeed. In other words, we recognize one size does not fit all. The Board of Education adopted Equity and Inclusion as a goal in its 2021-2022 plan to support our teachers through professional development, help achievement and wellness of students performing below grade-level, and expand social-emotional programming through counseling.
 
Why are Hermosa Schools supporting equity and inclusion?
Our schools have been and will always be invested in teaching character, wellness, and kindness. Teaching students empathy, social-emotional skills, and understanding diversity is not only educationally beneficial but also essential for 21st-century skills needed in the workplace. Skills like cultural intelligence, diversity, and collaboration were highlighted in Forbes Magazine’s “The 10+ Most Important Job Skills Every Company Will be Looking for in 2020 and we want to ensure we are teaching students skills they will need tomorrow.
 
Why else?
Every school district in California is evaluated by its support of students to achieve equity and inclusion. The California School Dashboard evaluates school districts on their ability to do so.
 
What if my student already excels? Will this initiative hold back high achievers?
Absolutely not. This initiative helps everyone by creating a more inclusive school environment that focuses on all student-staff relationships, student experiences, and lived culture. Creating an equitable environment isn’t about holding back any kids, rather it’s about removing obstacles that may impact student success. We have incredible students in Hermosa and must do everything we can to ensure all succeed. Importantly, this work also ensures we are giving our amazing teachers the support and development they need, particularly to support at-risk learners.
 
Is there a chance this can negatively impact some students?
Quite the opposite. This will help all our students thrive. Our goal is to help students think critically, listen thoughtfully, collaborate effectively, and be good global citizens. Understanding equity, diversity, and inclusion improves our world experiences and our impact on it. The work we do ahead will strengthen student engagement and build a school culture that values both individuals and a more inclusive community.
 
What curriculum is HBCSD using with students for equity and inclusion?
This has not yet been determined. We are setting ourselves up for long-term success, currently in the planning stages with staff, so they may help teach our students. It’s still early days and we are focused on the how before the what. Any curriculum change or adoption would occur in 2022-2023 at the earliest.
 
What is the Equity Task Force?
In 2018, the Board of Education agreed to promote equity in district programs and activities. The Board of Education adopted a resolution in September 2020 to form an Equity Task Force to support the academic achievement and wellness of all students. In 2020-2021, the Task Force, which included parents, students, alumni, staff, administrators, and Board members, met publicly every two weeks to work on a vision for equity and inclusion in our school district, culminating in recommendations for action.
 
What did the Equity Task Force base its recommendations on?
Data. The group studied data on student achievement, school climate, school discipline and attendance, and qualitative feedback from surveys.

Did the Equity Task Force conclude Hermosa Beach is racist?
No. That was not the remit of the task force. While racial bias exists everywhere, the group did not make conclusions about Hermosa Beach having a unique problem. It’s also important to note that research and recommendations were not limited to race. The Equity Task Force looked at many areas that can impact student achievement including academic underperformance of students with disabilities and English Language Learners, student discipline reports of targeted bullying, and school climate data indicating high anxiety/stress. We are choosing to proactively address needs like this that could exist in any school district.

Is this taking away from focusing on academics?
Not at all. This work is focused on academics, particularly learning loss after the COVID-19 pandemic. We are planning to assess our students reading, English Language Arts, and math to establish a clear baseline and ensure achievement, and, importantly, track data over time. We are looking at best-in-class reading, writing, and math intervention practices and building professional development schedules to support implementation.
 
What is the definition of equity in HBCSD?
To foster an environment where all students have the opportunity to benefit from high standards with accessible, supportive, effective, and inclusive classrooms required for a high-quality education.

For example, when a teacher provides visual examples to support an English Language Learner with vocabulary, they are providing better, equitable teaching for all students.
 
What is the definition of inclusion in HBCSD?
Valuing and intentionally including the participation, contribution, and perspectives of all students in our schools.

For example, when a teacher facilitates a student-led Socratic discussion where all students understand how to participate and are expected to contribute as well as listen critically to others, they are providing a better, inclusive classroom environment for all students.
 
What other school districts are engaged in this kind of work?
Redondo Beach Unified School District, Manhattan Beach Unified School District (CLICK HERE), and El Segundo Unified School District (CLICK HERE) are all engaged in this work, in our immediate neighboring districts.
 
What’s next?
This work is just beginning. Dr. Jason Johnson, Superintendent, presented an action plan to the Board of Education based on the adopted Equity Task Force recommendations on June 9. CLICK HERE to review the presentation and CLICK HERE to watch the video clip of the meeting. There will continue to be regular meetings to transparently track progress and support the implementation of plans. The elected School Board will continue to oversee the process and vote on what will be actioned.
 
Is HBCSD teaching politics?
No. We are invested in teaching character, wellness, and kindness, focusing on empathy and understanding.
 
Is HBCSD adopting an Ethnic Studies course?
No. The State of California is reviewing the creation of a required high school course in Ethnic Studies. As a K-8 school, this potential requirement is outside our gradespan.
 
Is HBCSD teaching Critical Race Theory?
No. It is not part of the work at HBCSD. Critical Race Theory, often referred to as CRT, is not an equity and inclusion training but a way of looking at racism across society that’s rooted in legal scholar work and higher education.
 
What theory or background is HBCSD’s work based on?
HBCSD is invested in culturally responsive practices designed to bridge the gap between learning and lived culture by focusing on student-staff relationships, student experiences, and curriculum and instruction. The goal is strengthening student engagement and building a school culture that values both individuals and inclusion.
 
Where can I learn more about culturally responsive practices?
CLICK HERE to read an article shared by the U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences.
 
Is HBEF paying for consultants?
No. Consultant fees for this work are paid for by state/federal funds from COVID-19 relief. State/federal funding is earmarked for these types of purposes.
 
How is the community involved?
An Equity and Inclusion Committee will advise and oversee HBCSD’s efforts to implement an action plan in 2021-2022. This committee will be two students, one alumni (grades 9-12), five HBCSD parents/guardians, four staff members, two administrators, and one Board member. The application for participation opened on June 15.
 
Who can I contact to learn more?
Please contact the superintendent, Dr. Jason Johnson, to learn more at [email protected].