LMTSD Unveils Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Plan


Daniel Porotov, Writer

In January, many in the district were shocked to learn of the racist speech contained in a text thread from last spring. Unfortunately, many others were unsurprised, having dealt with racism in their, or their childrens’, daily school lives, issues which they, as a minority group, simply internalized as the Lower Moreland status quo. Following an initial school board listening session where parents and students voiced their concerns and fears and recounted their own experiences of race and ethnicity-based targeting and misconduct, it was obvious that the time for change in the district was now. 

During the February 2 school board meeting, Dr. Davidheiser updated the board on the district’s diversity, equity, and inclusion planning. At the February 16 meet, the board approved a new resolution on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The goals of this resolution were to affirm the District’s commitment to supporting the academic, physical, emotional, and social well-being of all students, to affirm and commit the school district to identifying and defining each student’s unique gifts and abilities, and to developing programs to support individualized paths. They also committed to a cultural competence action plan: This plan would provide ongoing training for staff, as well as continuous open dialogue opportunities for students and their families as a means to demonstrate the district’s commitment to understanding differences and embracing diversity. The resolution serves as an important guideline to studying and reworking key policies and programs such as student discipline measures and the code of conduct. Through this process, the ultimate goal is for the district to understand what the limitations of the current status quo are and the areas in which the school community can improve.

The district also joined the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence, a think-tank organization to which a large number of other local school districts belong. Its main focus is equity within schools, and it will assist Lower Moreland in investigating student outcomes among various classes of demographics. Along with vital surveying and collection of information, Lower Moreland’s partnership with the consortium will help establish equitable access to treatment and opportunities for families and students, opening up valuable resources where they are much needed. Membership in the consortium also engages the school’s reach beyond the localized Montgomery County job fair through newfound admission to the Diversity Job Fair, along with broadened online job postings. This gives Lower Moreland a new avenue to be able to attract potential educators, administrators, and staff of all ethnicities who have not had the chance to apply in the past. 

Lastly, through the Delaware Valley Consortium for Excellence, the Lower Moreland School District will partner with Dr. Robert Jarvis, the UPenn director of the Coalition for Educational Equity for over 20 years. His work with Lower Moreland will center around promptly initializing and undertaking diversity training for the administration and staff in the coming months, as well as evaluating case studies from other school districts regarding their successes and pitfalls on their journeys to equity and inclusion.

The district also began a partnership with the diversity, equity, and inclusion expert Dr. Barbara Moore Williams. She worked as an educator in the Philadelphia School District, where she oversaw professional development. Dr. Williams will act as a guiding force on the district’s newly established diversity council. Her responsibilities include assisting in a planning process for the district’s 3-5 year action plan, as well as providing professional development for equity and inclusion within the schools. Dr. Williams will also identify the resources needed within our schools at the various grade levels to achieve student equity and will educate students and staff regarding the issues of bias and discrimination. 

 The road to diversity, equity, and inclusion is long and the work that the school district has done in locating a number of beneficial resources, opportunities, and programs shows that an optimistic future of change is ahead if we can only put aside our differences and embrace it. Superintendent Dr. Scott Davidheiser made clear during the introduction of the resolution that the district’s “intention to move forward, learn, and grow is going to take everyone’s efforts, including the staff, the board, the students, parents, and the community at large.” As members of the Lower Moreland community, it is up to us to support our friends and our neighbors in the journey to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable Lower Moreland for everyone.