Columbia, SC (WLTX) Richland School District Two is taking steps to ensure diversity and inclusion. A newly formed subcommittee of the district school board met Tuesday night to discuss their role and how they could aid the Chief Diversity and Multicultural Inclusion Officer, Dr. Helen Grant. Chair of the committee, board member Amelia McKie says their role is to help Dr. Grant with policy making procedures. She tells News 19, "One of the components we talked about was an education piece and making sure that people understood the myriad of things that we are already doing right now to focus on diversity and multicultural inclusion, and that, that is what it is."
The group also wants to make sure people understand that it's not just all about race. McKie says, "Diversity is less about skin color, less about what someone looks like, but about where they come from, what their world view is, what their perspective is, socio-economics and all of the differences that make us special."
Dr. Grant says when you have two people in a room, you already have diversity. She says, "When speak and I say diversity, I am talking about any way that we are different. I use that same definition whether I am talking to kindergartners in one of our school classrooms, or whether I am talking to our community at large."
Dr. Grant's plan for comprehensive diversity and multicultural inclusion is on the district website. It focuses on five main areas: Instruction, Communication and Partnerships, Recruitment and Retention, Business, and Climate. But she says, the plan is fluid, with a few constants. She says, "I think climate and environment would be constant. Trying to make sure that our students feel they are in a place that is warm, that's welcoming, that's comfortable for them, but more than that, that they are in a place where they feel valued and respected as a student."
Dr. Grant jokingly says she wants inclusion to be so prevalent that she works herself out of a job. She wants it to be second nature and a part of every decision every district representative makes. She says, "We do have to make sure that all people are included. Some of those voices are smaller than others. Some of those voices you don't hear at all and so I look at my job as making sure I look for those little voices, or the ones that are not speaking at all, to make sure they're included."
As part of the action plan Dr. Grant has held a series of community conversations to get community feedback. The one scheduled for Monday night was canceled due to the weather. The district is in the process of rescheduling that one.
To view the plan just go to the District website, www.richland2.org