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Davis School District taking steps to focus on racial equity

Posted at 5:31 PM, Apr 26, 2022

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — It’s been six months since the Davis School District made an agreement to change for the better after a Department of Justice settlement.

District officials now say they are making good on the commitment to being more inclusive and equitable.

“It’s important every student feels safe in our school because when students feel safe, they enjoy coming to school, they’re able to have that sense of belonging,” Assistant Superintendent Jacqueline Thompson said.

In the past six months, the Davis School District has proactively focused on healing, training over 9,800 employees to prevent and address racial harassment and discriminatory discipline.

"Anytime we see injustice, we need to speak up and speak out,” Thompson said.

Over 100 coaches and staff watched a documentary Monday about racial injustice and bias.

"The Loyola Project" tells the story of a 1963 championship basketball team and their battle against racism and inequality on and off the basketball court.

A former coach himself, Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey brought the film to Utah after seeing it last month.

“One of the things that I really got out of it was the different perspectives that are felt that we might not ever imagine," Newey said. "Those are the perspectives someone else sees when we are all going through an experience together."

Following the documentary, a panel including Gov. Spencer Cox’s senior adviser on equity and opportunity spoke to the high school coaches and athletic directors.

“The takeaway I hope they get from it is to reflect and realize the significance experience plays on all of us," Newey said. "[It is] not the way others see our experience, but the way we feel, live and see our own experience."

One of the other initiatives that’s been going on for the past few months is the “No More, Not Here” video series. The Davis School District will be releasing its final video next month, and students say it’s making a difference.

“It’s resonating with our students and our community," Thompson said. "Others throughout the state and nation are using the videos now as well, but the videos are the awareness piece on how we treat each other."

The district also created an office of equal opportunity with staff that will receive, investigate and resolve complaints of racial harassment and discrimination.

“We know that we can do this together," Thompson said. "There’s an African proverb that says: 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.' So, we are going together with our community, our students, our educators, and most of all, with our families. They are vital to this role."

"The Loyola Project" is wrapping up its screening across 63 colleges and universities around the U.S. and Canada over the past few months.