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Laguna Beach school leaders ponder anti-racism resolution

The west entrance to Laguna Beach High School.
(File Photo)

Laguna Beach Unified School District is considering taking a stand against racism with a resolution.

A draft of the two-page resolution, which calls for “a commitment to creating an unbiased and inclusive society through education,” was either too vague or trying to pack in too much, depending on the school board member.

“The Laguna Beach Unified School District Board of Education stands strongly with our Black and all marginalized students, staff, families and community and vows to reflect upon its policies, values, goals and missions to ensure its commitment to all, and to creating an unbiased and inclusive society free of discrimination, harassment and negative stereotyping toward any person or group through education; and ... the Board of Education vows to make decisions with a deliberate awareness of impediments to learning faced by students of color and/or diverse cultural, linguistic or socioeconomic backgrounds,” the statement reads in part.

School board Clerk Carol Normandin said the resolution was “whitewashed.”

“It focuses more on us and what we’ve done but misses, from the comments made, that we failed our students, our Black students,” she said. “We failed to understand, to provide for them with equity.”

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Normandin said she supports more of a commitment that directly acknowledges the Black Lives Matter movement and its broad suggestions for change in schools, recognizing that this summer’s racial reckoning worldwide was triggered by police killings of Black people.

For Laguna Beach, she said that should include diversifying staff and consultants, offering arts and literature from more cultures, addressing racism head-on in classroom conversations, and using the district’s privilege to demand equitable funding for other school districts.

Board member Dee Perry said she supports a general resolution followed up with a more specific action plan. Board member Jan Vickers agreed and thinks a broad resolution reflects deeper thinking.

Thousands of protesters have converged in Orange County to speak out about the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police, as well as other Black men, women and children who have died at the hands of police.

Vickers said she prefers the concept of acceptance over tolerance.

“I compared it to when you have a young child who’s going through a really difficult stage. You tolerate that behavior till you get to the end, where they finally change that behavior,” she said. “But when you accept something it’s different than tolerating. It’s an actual acceptance of that as having validity.”

Parents and at least one student submitted comments supporting the resolution, describing how they have encountered racism in the four-school district that serves a town that is 85% white, according to the U.S. Census.

Discussions on the statement are expected to resume at a future meeting.

The school board will meet next on Monday, specifically to discuss a reopening framework for the coming school year. The meeting begins streaming at 10:30 a.m. at lbusd.org/liveboardmeeting.

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