October 13 2020

School Committee Discusses Draft Job Description for New Director of Diversity, Equity and Belonging

By: Rich Hosford

The Burlington School Committee discussed a draft proposal for a job description for a new position meant to help all students feel more included in schools. 


It was the first look at the Director of Diversity, Equity and Belonging (formerly Inclusion) position since Town Meeting approved funds for the position in September. Superintendent Eric Conti said much of the job description had been created by the BHS Equity committee and the draft also included input from similar positions in other districts. 


Conti told the committee that they weren’t looking for a vote on Tuesday but said to consider this like they do with new policies, having a second reading at a subsequent meeting and then taking a vote. The committee will be asked to vote on it during its October 27 meeting. 


According to the draft job description this will be the job summary: 


“The Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging supports the Burlington Public Schools efforts to build an organization based on equity, inclusion, and belonging for all students, their families, staff, and community members, by promoting the ideals of embracing differences and elevating them as opportunities. The Burlington Public Schools recognize that the existing systems disproportionately impact the most marginalized students and communities in our society. We believe that these marginalized voices must be centered and amplified in the work of the Director of Diversity, Equity and Belonging so that all feel that they belong. For this reason, we strongly encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds.”


Responsibilities of the position starts with “working with the district leadership team to identify, assess and create action plans to address institutional biases and structural racism in district programs and practices, and their associated impacts on underserved and underrepresented communities.”


The person will also “Work directly with students and staff to establish support groups and networks for underserved communities”; “Determine needs of staff and students and plan and provide district-wide training for faculty, staff, and students in order to establish a better understanding of the intersection between social and emotional learning, equity, and culturally responsive teaching strategies for student achievement.”; and “Work with the leadership team to support the hiring, retention, and promotion of a diverse workforce” among other responsibilities. 


Under the qualifications, the description says the position requires either a Master’s degree with 5-plus years of related experience in a school setting or a Bachelor’s degree with 7-10 years of related experience in a school setting and a willingness to pursue a Master’s or Doctoral degree being a plus. 


Conti said that because this is a new position the job description is just the beginning and he expects the position to evolve after they interview and hire the candidate that will fill it. 


The job description is a starting point, something that will help us to attract the right people to apply,” he said. 


Finally, Conti outlined the path moving forward. He said once the School Committee votes to approve a job description in two weeks they will create a hiring committee. He said they hope to begin interviews in January or February and have the finalists meet with student panels and members of the district’s leadership team. He said he’d be happy to bring someone on board in February or March but if the best candidate is under contract they might start on July 1 as most administration officials do.


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