HPS Equity & Inclusion Plan to be rolled out in the new school year

Photo by Hannah Busing

August 24, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer

During a presentation of the 53-page Hingham Public Schools Equity & Inclusion Plan for 2021-2022, Asst. Supt. Jamie LaBillois said the idea is to start implementing it during the new school year, with a focus on "developing a sense of belonging among all members of the school community."

The Hingham Public Schools Vision of Equity states that "regardless of student background, experience, and knowledge, HPS students will be provided with opportunities and resources to develop socially, emotionally, and academically in a safe, supportive, enriching, and bias-free environment."

LaBillois said it's "upsetting and incredibly concerning to find that some people don't have a sense of belonging. We'll be addressing bias in the schools, with each building establishing its own equity and inclusion team to manage site-specific issues and the roll-out."

The plan is built upon a "restorative practices" foundation that is already underway, based upon building healthy relationships between educators and students; reducing, preventing, and improving harmful behavior; repairing harm and restoring positive relationships; resolving conflict; holding individuals and groups accountable; and addressing and discussing the needs of the entire school community.

"We want to use that sense of community to take a different approach [as opposed to a punitive or "right or wrong" one]," LaBillois said. "We're all members of the same community, and if someone's behavior has wronged you, it's incumbent on that person to right that wrong."

LaBillois explained the composition of the HPS district enrollment: 1.9 percent African American; 2.8 percent, Asian; 3.7 percent, Hispanic; .1 percent Native American; 88.1 percent, white; 0 percent Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander; and 3.4 percent Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic.

Key areas include instructional time and attention: for example, whether all students have access to the same opportunities, including access to early intervention and social-emotional support and how to close achievement gaps. Another focus is on special education. LaBillois also explained plans for professional development for the new school year.

For further information -- including the Equity & Inclusion Working Group, the HPS vision, the HPS partnership with the Harvard RIDES program and the Suffolk University Center for Restorative Justice Partnership, Implicit Bias Training, the Courageous Conversation Series, resources to talk to children about race and racism, the HPS SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, and other details -- visit https://hinghamschools.org/equity-inclusion/

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