Dignity For All Texas Students April 2021

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APRIL 2021

Learn more, donate or volunteer at dignityforalltexasstudents.org

STRONGER TOGETHER: ADVOCATING FOR ALL DRAGONS Who is Dignity for All Texas Students? We are a grassroots, non-political, non-profit composed of Southlake parents, educators, and concerned residents who believe all CISD students should feel welcomed, safe, and successful. Through facts, data, and the real experiences of students, we recognize the district’s challenges and want to ensure all students are treated with dignity. Creating a brighter future for Dragons of all backgrounds requires a plan and all of us working together.

Diversity & Inclusion Plans Show that Every Student Matters School districts that implement diversity and inclusion (D&I) plans show that they value diversity and understand the benefit to their students, teachers, administrators, and larger community. These districts demonstrate that every student matters no matter their ethnicity, race, gender, religion, culture, sexual orientation, or ability.

Diversity Is More Than Race

D&I plans create a framework that provides a safe environment where students can take risks, make mistakes, and grow from experience, while honoring the inherent dignity of every individual and cultivating a sense of belonging. Research1,2 shows that student exposure to diversity: • Improves cognitive skills and critical thinking • Prepares students to enter adulthood and the global workforce • Promotes creativity • Builds confidence later in life • Promotes empathy and reduces prejudice

Timeline of CISD’s Work Toward a D&I Plan

After spending months conducting surveys and building an initial diversity and inclusion plan, all of the District Diversity Council’s (DDC’s) progress has been brought to a standstill. The ongoing litigation has resulted in $325,000 in added unbudgeted legal fees. In addition, over 300 current and past Dragons have come forward with testimonials of discrimination and/or harassment. OCTOBER 2018: Video of CISD students chanting racial slurs is posted to social media, accelerating the formation of the DDC

JUNE 2019: DDC provides an update on their progress to the CISD board

JANUARY 2019: 63-person DDC is formed. CISD parents, students, teachers, administrators and community members were eligible to apply

AUGUST 2020: CCAP is received by the CISD Board and meant to serve as a starting point

SEPTEMBER 2019 – FEBRUARY 2020: DDC presents recommendations to be included in Cultural Competency Action Plan (CCAP), focused on promoting inclusivity and cultural awareness

DECEMBER 2020: Temporary restraining order (TRO) halts any progress on diversity plan

SEPTEMBER 2020: 2nd invitation for community to join DDC

“Two white kids in my class used the N-word, hard R, at least ten times right in front of me and they faced no consequences… I attended Southlake schools K-12, and I experienced racism my entire childhood there.” – R.R., CISD Class of 2019 Amy Stuart Wells, Lauren Fox, and Diana Cordova-Cobo, “How Racially Diverse Schools and Classrooms Can Benefit All Students,” The Century Foundation, February 9, 2016, https://tcf.org/content/report/ how-racially-diverse-schools-and-classrooms-can-benefit-all-students/?agreed=1&session=1&agreed=1&agreed=1


Nneka A. Bennett, “5 Benefits of Teaching Classroom Diversity,” Kickboard for Schools, September 6, 2018, https://www.kickboardforschools.com/diversity-equity/5-benefits-of-teaching-classroom-diversity/


Dignity for All Texas Students: April 2021


Efforts to Stall Progress on D&I Plan Cost Taxpayers & Students

A $190,000 increase in legal budget, diverted from other critical priorities, is a direct result of an orchestrated attempt to block work on a Diversity & Inclusion Plan. Expenditure Categories

Current Year Budget

Expenditures 9/1 thru 12/31

Forecast End of Year

TOMA Investigation*









Public Information Requests***









Special Education









General Education**









Other Legal Requirements









Grand Total









Additional Required

*Texas Open Meetings Act; **Employment, Board Governance, Real Estate, etc.; ***On site Legal Assistance $150,000 – Est. Time Allocation – 90% Allocated to PIA, 10% Allocated to General ED Source: February 1, 2021 CISD School Board Meeting Agenda Item 13b, William Wooten, Assistant Superintendent for Financial Services

• 70% of the approved increase goes to unbudgeted costs related to legal representation of the district (NOT individual board members) in a lawsuit aimed at shutting down the development of a D&I plan. • Over 200 Public Information Act (PIA) requests have been made at the urging of the anti-diversity PAC in the first 4 months of the 2020-2021 school year, 4 times as many as the same time during the previous year.

• 90% of the $150,000 fees for on-site legal assistance has been spent on responding to PIA requests. These actions drain valuable time and resources from school administrators, teachers, and legal counsel. They are costing the taxpayers over $325,000 – money that could be better spent supporting the mission of CISD.

SCOC* vs. D&I** Plan Myth Buster SCOC characteristics: • Punitive focus • Reactive approach • Permanent record kept • Could involve law enforcement • Provides no education for improvement • Addresses negative behavior only

Characteristics of both: Addresses: • Bullying • Discrimination based on any of the following: race, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, ability (SPED/ disabled), religion, or language/accent

*SCOC = Student Code of Conduct

• Education focus • Proactive approach

• Harassment

Complement each other

D&I Plan characteristics:

• No permanent record • Promotes unity and belonging • Strong foundation for continued learning in college and workplace • Evolves student understanding of cultures/differences • Positive reinforcement for positive behavior

**D&I = Diversity and Inclusion

Myth: The “Diversity Police” will permanently penalize students for unintentional actions. Fact: There is no “Diversity Police.” Penalizing students is the job of the SCOC (Student Code of Conduct). The goal of a D&I initiative is to promote and implement diversity and inclusion in CISD schools, which will hopefully lead to fewer SCOC violations.

“The world is changing and we need to change with it. Diversity should be celebrated, and kids should feel safe enough in school to express who they are. Anything else is an injustice to our students and their futures. – Former CISD Elementary School Educator

“As a CISD staff member, the need for a comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan has been long apparent to me. Simply attempting to enforce the existing Student Code of Conduct to address the many issues that occur on campus daily, as well as just blatantly racist incidents, does not work because we often lack the support we need from administration. A diversity and inclusion plan is necessary to protect all Dragons and enable teachers such as myself to truly create an environment that fosters excellence for all students.” – CISD Educator


Dignity for All Texas Students: April 2021

“When Carroll ISD or the city of Southlake has ever been in need of anything to ensure a top-notch educational experience for our Dragons, they have usually come through – whether it is the need for a bigger stadium for athletics, technology upgrades for our campuses, or a state-ofthe-art facility for our young artists and musicians. It is way past time for our district to adopt and implement an effective diversity and inclusion plan. We need a plan that will not only enhance our students’ educational experience by helping them learn and practice the importance of showing respect for everyone, but will serve to protect all of our students from intolerance, bigotry, and hate speech. The longer we delay, the more we’ll continue to disadvantage our city’s most precious residents, our Dragons.” – Cultural and Racial Equity for Every Dragon (CREED)

Key Components of a Diversity & Inclusion Plan

Texas school districts including Eanes ISD, Midlothian ISD and Richardson ISD are further along in the process of implementing a plan. Diversity Training & Professional Development

Culturally Inclusive & Accessible Curriculum

Representative Hiring Plan

Formal Data Collection, Evaluation & Reporting


Is designed to help teachers and administrators better understand students from different backgrounds and cultures

Integrates resources that are representative of all children and their families into the existing curriculum.

Supports the district in hiring teachers and administrators representative of all students and the community

Enables the district to capture qualitative and quantitative data so trends can be tracked and evaluated over time at the district and campus level


Not Critical Race Theory (CRT)

No alteration to statemandated curriculum

Not Affirmative Action

Not Tracking Individual Students

“Southlake is not a racist city. However, we have experienced numerous and significant racist acts, which are enough to give a community a bad label if we do nothing about it. This is not a political issue. This is a human issue, and it is our issue.” – Mario Chavez, ExxonMobil Global Olefins Commercial Manager and Southlake Citizen

Upcoming Elections: Where do the candidates stand on D&I?

Crucial elections in Southlake are quickly approaching. There are two openings on the CISD School Board of Trustees, two openings on City Council, and the Mayor’s seat is up for grabs. It is vital that Southlake city leaders embrace the changes happening in our town and move Southlake and CISD forward to ensure our children are well-prepared for life outside Southlake, in college and beyond. Some candidates vying for the open positions have expressed support for a D&I plan in CISD while others have not only denied a need for a plan, but they have supported legal action against CISD. DATS will be surveying the candidates – watch for the results of the survey before you head to the polls. Early Voting is April 19–27th. Election Day is May 1st. Every vote counts!

“Carroll needs a diversity plan because it is the right thing to do. Public schools should be a place where each individual student feels safe and welcomed. Having a diversity plan is essential in protecting the wellbeing of each child.” – CISD Educator • Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) research shows that 59.5% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 44.6% felt unsafe because of their gender expression. • LGBTQ students reported higher levels of peer victimization at school than other students – 89.4% of LGBTQ students reported victimization experiences versus 71.4% of other students. – Love Every Dragon (LED) Dignity for All Texas Students: April 2021

Myth Buster Myth: D&I plans “indoctrinate” our students in CRT (Critical Race Theory) and teach them ALL white students are racist. Fact: This would be terrifying if it were true. Fortunately, CRT is not mentioned or cited in any plan, and it is counterproductive to the goals of D&I initiatives, which are to educate ALL students and teachers on diversity and inclusion and celebrate ALL cultures.

“As an educator in Carroll ISD, my priority is for all students to feel a sense of safety and acceptance while learning. However, without proper training and a diversity plan, I cannot achieve this goal. As our community rapidly evolves, the educational process will not be successful unless Carroll ISD works with the community to make each student feel at home in Southlake and embrace each individual’s unique background.” – CISD Educator


DATS Mission

Fostering a culture of diversity, inclusion, and belonging is the heart of who we are. Knowing we are stronger together, we champion efforts to celebrate and advocate for diversity and inclusion in Southlake Carroll ISD schools and the community to prepare students for successful futures. Dignity for All Texas Students is a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. While your generous support is not tax-deductible, it will help our 100% volunteer-driven effort fulfill our mission.

You’re Invited to Continue the Conversation

Join our Virtual Community Forum Featuring: Panel of D&I Advocates Date: April 11 Time: 2pm Register: dignityforalltexasstudents.org Still have questions about D&I plans? Wonder what implementation of a D&I plan might look like in CISD? Want to know more about the process the District Diversity Council went through over 18 months? Join our virtual Zoom panel on Sunday, April 11 at 2pm. Our panel will have experts in this field including fellow Southlake residents ready to share their wisdom and to answer your questions.

“We can’t change the color of our skin, but every single student can choose to respect and love diversity. Inclusion isn’t telling someone to join you, it’s bringing leaders and students together and making a community.” – L.P., 8th Grader, CMS “Southlake is an outlier. The ethnic and religious demographics are shifting at a rapid rate. Our students need to be equipped to succeed in a global economy. When diverging viewpoints and experiences are present in the classroom, it encourages critical thinking, and the learning environment is richer. Students are more prepared to navigate an increasingly diverse world.” – CISD Educator

Myth Buster

Myth: If a D&I plan is implemented, say goodbye to Gifted and Talented (GT) programs and AP courses. Fact: As some have falsely claimed, the GT program was not eliminated in Boston; instead the testing for the program was halted temporarily due to the pandemic. It had nothing to do with a D&I plan. In Southlake, 23% of our students qualify for the GT program and over 55% take at least one AP level course, thus serving a large percentage of our student population. These programs and course offerings will not change with a D&I plan in place.

“I lived in Southlake and went to Carroll ISD my entire life, and when I moved away to college, I was severely set back. While I was ahead of my classmates in math and physics, I was mortifyingly ignorant of the society I was a part of. A diversity plan aims to implement programs that have already been implemented in most successful institutions. To put it simply, it’s as if most of the country is using iPhone 11’s and Carroll ISD is only allowing their students to use first generation iPhones. The implementation of a diversity plan is not only necessary, but will fill the fundamental gaps in the education being provided to our children.” – J.K., CISD Class of 2016