EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Davis School District explains how it’ll improve handling of racism investigations

Dec 6, 2021, 5:45 PM | Updated: Feb 23, 2023, 1:25 pm

FILE- Davis County School District headquarters. Photo: KSLTV...

FILE- Davis County School District headquarters. Photo: KSLTV

FARMINGTON, Utah — The Davis School District introduced a familiar face to help stamp out the culture of racism that the Department of Justice says is prevalent in its schools. Dr. Jackie Thompson, the woman in charge of implementing these changes, says it will be hard work. However, she is excited to do it.

Racism in Davis School District

In October, the DOJ released its findings from an investigation into serious accusations of racism within Davis School District campuses.  They found that students of color were frequently called the n-word, or other racial slurs, many times in front of teachers or other faculty members.  The report also found harassment rose whenever teachers addressed slavery in history class.  The family of Izzy Tichenor claims repeated bullying about her skin color and her autism led to Izzy taking her own life.

One of the main complaints against the district was that reports of racism fell on deaf ears, with the faculty doing very little to punish the offenders.  However, Thompson, the newly-appointed assistant superintendent, says new rules will ensure the claims aren’t brushed aside as single incidents.

“If a parent has a complaint, and they have gone to the teacher, the teacher must report it to the principal, right away,” she told KSL. 

Incidents will be reported to proper officials

Dr. Jacqueline Thompson has been appointed as an assistant superintendent for Davis School District. Photo credit: Davis School District.

Thompson says parents can take their complaints directly to the principal if they feel they need to.  Plus, principals must now bring every incident to the proper officials within the DSD.  The district is hiring more employees who are specifically trained to look into accusations of racism.

“We’ll have 35 cultural liaisons who will be either administrators, like principals or vice-principals, or other staff. And they will help us with the investigation of the complaints,” she said.

Thompson acknowledges dealing with racism will be tricky, at times.  The Cache County School District Board of Education received heated criticism for showing the video for the song “400 Years” during an anti-racism assembly. It was later determined to be inappropriate.  Critics of the video believe it shames white students for their skin color while depicting every police officer as inherently evil.

Thompson says shaming students of any demographic could backfire, and it shouldn’t be part of their discussions.

“There is no guilt, blame, and shame. We’re all looking to be a part of the solution,” she said.

“REACH”

Thompson advocates the training that comes with a program called “REACH,” or “Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage.” She says REACH addresses five major keys to address racial tension.  They include:

  • Multiple perspectives
  • Culture is something everybody has
  • Building cultural bridges
  • Head, hearts, and hands for healing
  • Cold responsibility

Thompson says it’s important to show how diversity enriches a community, while highlighting commonalities brings a community together.

“We must teach accurate history, but we must teach it so that we can learn from the past to ensure the future and go forward and be part of the solution, today,” she said.

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Davis School District explains how it’ll improve handling of racism investigations