According to meeting notes, a California director for equity & inclusion in Poway Unified School District called parents who don’t agree with her agenda “resisters.”
JEDI, which stands for Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion, hosted the meeting. Casey Doan, the chair of the group, said that it was organized by the Palomar Council PTA within the Poway Unified Schools District. They claim that they work directly with the district, according to their website.
Doan posted the meeting notes which gave a rare glimpse into conversations behind closed doors.
Here are the Meeting notes (more of a summary than minutes). She said that she would continue to add to them, making this a living document.
At a Sept. 13, 2021 meeting, Dr. Shawntanet Jara, district equity director, was asked about her agenda. “How will you approach parents pushing back?”
According to Dr. Jara’s summary of the meeting, pushback is not new. It’s loud, but it’s not common. [L]ook for Org[anization] Transformation Theory: 20% resist, 20% wish that you had started 5 years ago, 60% floating in the middle. I focused my attention on those who were willing to move. This comes with a cost. It’s okay. I need to go to bed at night. I also need to be able to explain what I did in the service of children. I don’t want to make them change their minds. I am able to communicate that to those who resist. It doesn’t need to be argumentative. It’s simply factual. It’s okay to disagree.
We tried to reach Dr. Jara, but we did not get a reply.
The director was then asked if Carol Osborne (associate superintendent for the district) supports this approach.
According to the meeting summary, she stated that “There seems to be enough courage around right now to take it on.” Carol is open and honest about her equity position – it’s a lens through which we see everything. As a child, she didn’t feel like she belonged. She feels so strongly that she is the only child who feels this way. It gives me the confidence to move forward. I am not a box. This is my current feeling. Superintendent believes equity is not negotiable.
We have previously reported on Dr. Jara and Osborne’s emails to a parent who raised concerns about the equity curriculum. Dr. Jara refused to discuss the concerns of the parent and instead made “statements”.
She said, “I respect your point of view… I’ve learned that it’s futile to ‘debate or argue’ so I’ll make just a few statements.”
She said, “I was hired because the district is committed to equity and inclusion.” “Truth and equity are essential for true healing and progress”. “You can be sure that all facts regarding systemic racism in this country are supported by data so that you don’t have to worry about it”. “We are open to your concerns at any time. However, we will continue to do our best to ensure that PUSD is a district that offers equitable learning environments”. “This is what I want for my children as well as yours”.
Osborne, the associate superintendent, followed up by email blasting the parent for criticizing Dr. Jara’s experiences.
She stated, “I was shocked you questioned the oppression of Dr. Jara, who is Black.” She shares the same experiences of oppression that thousands of African Americans and others of color have. Your life experiences are likely to be very different than Dr. Jara’s and not reflect the oppression she experienced.
Osborne did not respond to our request.
Californians for Equal Rights Foundation filed an administrative complaint against the district accusing it of discrimination. Wenyuan Wu the executive director stated that the district does not “treat dissent or dissenters with an opened mind or even minimal tolerance.”
She said, “Parents or community members disagreeing about its teaching paradigms are often given bureaucratic runarounds. Sometimes parents were mocked and their concerns were ignored.
The previous statement from the district stated that parents are encouraged to give feedback. It also provided many opportunities for parents to engage in discussions. All meetings with parents are conducted respectfully by staff according to professional standards.