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Davis School District hopes to create an inclusive learning environment, move beyond racism

Aug 19, 2022, 8:05 PM | Updated: 8:07 pm

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — Davis School District is promising better inclusion for all students. A new assistant superintendent stepped in to head up the new district program, under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The program comes as part of a settlement with the DOJ after an investigation found evidence of widespread racial harassment. Administrators said they’ll need everyone to do their part to make everyone feel included and valued.

Among the cases highlighted by the DOJ’s investigation was the case of two Black students who were bullied by a bus driver in 2019. Now Dr. Fidel Montero is tasked with leading the effort to make sure students aren’t mistreated because of who they are.

“To me, that’s what we do as educators. We create opportunity for children across the spectrum,” Montero said.

But getting there will not be easy. Early this year the district rolled out, “No More, Not Here.” It featured videos produced with the help of students. Some parents and students told reporter Mike Anderson the effort seemed too scripted and not focused enough. Montero said it’s just a starting point.

“Ultimately we want to create an environment where anybody walks into our school and they feel that sort of sense of presence, a sense of connection, a sense of relationship.”

A new reporting system, along with an office of equal opportunity will both help handle discrimination complaints. Montero said everyone will need to get involved, regardless if they feel like they are part of the problem.

No More, Not Here! is a Davis School District initiative to combat racism.

“You have to look at yourself in the mirror for a minute and say, ‘How do I get better?’ That’s never comfortable. It’s not comfortable for me to say ‘How can I be a better parent? How can I be a better neighbor? How do I become a better educator’ ”

All of that is meant to play a part in helping gain the trust of students who were mistreated so that they will feel they can ask for help.

“Our first effort right now is to make sure we have the right safe rails in place,” Montero said.

Some parents have expressed concern that the DOJ program is somehow an effort to push critical race theory in schools. Montero said that is not at all the case and has not come up since he started.

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Davis School District hopes to create an inclusive learning environment, move beyond racism