Davis school board updates a packed meeting on inclusion efforts

Jan 5, 2022, 9:28 AM | Updated: 9:37 am

The Davis School District Administrative Services Center is pictured in Farmington on Tuesday, Nov....

The Davis School District Administrative Services Center is pictured in Farmington on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

FARMINGTON, Utah — A Davis school board meeting was packed to the brim Tuesday night with those eager to hear the district’s plans to combat racism and mishandling of bullying.

At the meeting, the Davis School District Board of Education announced a new community partnership to help improve inclusion and fight racism. They also included a new unified sports program.

Unified sports in an inclusive program affiliated with the Special Olympics. The program will be championed by Utah’s First Lady Abby Cox, one of the three new partners the district announced will help in anti-discrimination efforts. 

“It’s going to take all of us.”

Cox was asked after the meeting whether she believed racism is a real problem in the district. She said listening to parents and others is the way to answer that question.

“If I think that there’s not racism, if I haven’t seen it myself, I talk to people who have and I listen to their stories. And that’s what unified sports is all about, is connecting with someone who has a different story than you do,” she said.

Colonel Janise Carroll from Hill Air Force Base has also joined the effort as a community partner and responded to the same question.

“There’s a problem. Not everybody sees the problem the same, and so because we do believe in diversity, equity and inclusion, everybody has a point of view,” she told reporters after the meeting.

The Davis district came in for severe criticism after a study by the U.S. Department of Justice found multiple incidents of racial harassment. The family of a 10-year-old special needs student who took her own life last fall has said they believe racist bullying at school contributed to her suicide.

Davis County Commissioner Bob Stevenson is also among the community partners announced at last night’s meeting, and he says the whole community needs to confront the issue of racism.

“One of the things I think we’ve been afraid of in the past is, we’re not willing to talk about it. And I believe we have to talk about the issue of racism, and we have to be very open about it,” Stevenson said.

Assistant Superintendent Jackie Thompson, who was hired in the wake of the Justice Department study, said the district needs to work with marginalized communities and interfaith groups to address racism.

“It’s going to take all of us. It’s been said, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If we want want to go far, go together,’ and we plan to go together and build upon things that have already had a foundation.”

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Davis school board updates a packed meeting on inclusion efforts