District 91 Superintendent Lou Cavallo | File photo

In a June 2 letter to parents and guardians, District 91 Superintendent Lou Cavallo wrote about the George Floyd killing and D91’s stance on equality and justice.

“The recent events sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis reminded me, even while isolated from one another, we must think about the pain our African-American students, families and staff members must be feeling now during this terrible moment in our country’s history,” wrote Cavallo.

He expressed regret that it is currently impossible to gather the D91 community together to “have an open and honest discussion about racial inequality and the tragic results of prolonged systemic bias.”

“Please know that District 91 will never condone hatred and injustice and will always stand for equality and justice,” wrote Cavallo, who them quoted the opening lines of the D91 Equity Imperative: “Recognizing that systemic bias has plagued our educational system, we commit to nurturing dialogue around all issues of inequity…”

D91’s Equity Imperative was approved by the D91 board of education on January 10, 2019. It was a decision to drive the district to eventually eliminate its academic achievement gap through taking a hard look at inequity in the district and develop strategies to eliminate it.

One important aspect of the Equity Imperative is evaluating the impact of all proposed programs, curriculums, and instructional methods on marginalized groups. Another part of the plan is to “promote practices that attract and retain a qualified workforce, diverse in experiences, reflecting the demographic diversity of [the] students.”

The imperative also includes equity training for all staff, and in July 2019, the board voted to spend $47,520 on bias training for all staff members. In August 2019, all D91 staff members participated in a two-day equity training program through the National Equity Project (NEP) based out of Oakland California.

In his June 2 memo, Cavallo said, “We must all recognize that systemic bias and call it out. We must all commit to nurturing dialogue, even when it’s difficult. We must all address issues of inequity because, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'”

“I encourage everyone to choose justice, kindness, understanding, and empathy over hatred,” wrote Cavallo. “Our future depends on it.”