St. Charles School Board appears to be closer to hiring firm to conduct equity audit

The purpose of the equity audit is to conduct a comprehensive review of the district’s current practices and educational outcomes

ST. CHARLES — St. Charles School Board members may be closer to hiring a firm to perform an equity audit.

In June, board members unanimously voted to pause its Deep Equity training until after an equity audit is completed. In March, board members voted 4-3 to use Deep Equity — a professional development program from the California-based Corwin company – to provide professional learning to staff on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Following three hours of comments from both proponents and opponents of the Deep Equity program, St. Charles School Board members on June 14 voted 7-0 to pause the agreement, with no penalty being incurred. They also decided that using different materials, the district will continue the training after completing an equity audit.

At the School Board’s Learning and Teaching Committee meeting Monday, board members discussed the four firms that have submitted proposals to do an equity audit – ICS, Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center, DMGroup and Consortium for Educational Change.

The purpose of the equity audit is to conduct a comprehensive review of the district’s current practices and educational outcomes “to ensure every student has access to and participates in meaningful learning opportunities that result in positive outcomes, regardless of individual characteristics or group membership.”

As another option to consider, board member Ed McNally brought up the idea of the district doing its own audit.

“We’re the people who know our district,” McNally said. “We know who we are.”

In response, board member Becky McCabe said it would be best for the district to have an outside audit done in order to provide an objective point of view. She liked what Consortium for Educational Change has to offer.

“They are not focused only on the equity pieces, they are focused on how to improve educational systems and have a long history of doing that,” McCabe said.

CEC has emerged as the firm preferred by the majority of the board members. But the board first wants to find out if the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism would be interested in performing an equity audit.

McCabe said she was against the idea of hiring the foundation, noting that it has not yet an audit for a school district.

“I can’t support a company coming in who just started,” she said. “I don’t want to be the first school district that they will audit. I’m not saying I don’t want to hear from them and I don’t want to look at what they do offer. I’m willing to go there.”

Staff plans to reach out to the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism to find out more about it and if it would be able to do an equity audit for the school district. In addition, staff plans to make a recommendation to the School Board on which firm should do the equity audit.

The goals of the district’s partnership with Deep Equity are to ensure all students, across all subgroups, achieve at high levels and to eliminate educational barriers and disparities. Other goals are to create a climate of inclusion, where all students and families feel welcomed and valued and to eliminate instances of discrimination related to differences in race, gender identify, sexual orientation, immigration status, language proficiency and religion.

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf

Eric Schelkopf covers St. Charles and writes entertainment stories for the Kane County Chronicle.