School Board Approves Resolution by Black Student Youth
A student-led protest where high schoolers presented a list of demands to school district employees on June 7, 2020 (edhat file photo)
By edhat staff
The Santa Barbara Unified School District's (SBUSD) Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution put forth by Black Student Youth in Santa Barbara on Tuesday.
Earlier this month, Black Student Youth SB organized a rally and march to protest police brutality and presented a list of demands relating to student's education to SBUSD employees. Last week, students met with district leaders to discuss and further outline the demands.
SBUSD created an action plan in response to those demands for board members to formally vote on. The demands include ethnic studies classes with culturally relevant curriculum, equitable hiring practices by the district, completion of bias training and de-escalation classes for School Resource Officers, public condemnation of the school to prison pipeline, allocation of funds to rehabilitation and mental health services for at-risk youth, declare racism a public health emergency and allocate resources to implement restorative justice practices to deal with hate crimes.
Last week on Juneteenth, a historical holiday celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, the Board released a press statement expressing their support for the demands of local black and other students of color.
"We have heard their calls for equality, justice, and the end to systemic racism within our district: from the thousands who marched to our district office, the hundreds who have sent emails, the dozens who spoke out at our last meeting, and the student leaders we met with for hours earlier this week. And now we are prepared to act," the statement read.
The Board also voted to approve the content of two new Ethnic Studies courses to be launched this fall - helping to satisfy the district’s new mandatory high school graduation requirement for the class of 2024. So far, 1,100 students have enrolled in Ethnic Studies courses for the Fall.
School board member Kate Ford worked with her board colleague Wendy Simms-Moten, community and student leaders, and district staff in developing the resolution.
“The overall lesson that we learned over these past few weeks is that it is important that we listen and learn, and I hope that whoever reads this resolution will see that we are listening and we are learning,” Ford said.
Dr. Frann Wageneck, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, said as we continue to listen and learn, we need to also focus on action and change. “As we stated to students who presented the demands to us at the district office [during the June 7 Black Lives Matter student protest] it’s important to watch our actions and make sure they back up our words. Regular reports on our progress will be essential.”
More than 60 people spoke during public comment, including Black Student Youth SB member Talia Hamilton, one of the students who presented the demands to district leaders. Hamilton said she was pleased with the resolution and action plan, and looked forward to continued collaboration with the district.
“I think it’s great how much support we have been getting,” Hamilton told district leaders. “We can’t do much without you guys. We are very thankful for you. I’m excited to see where this goes. We need to teach our youth that there is no room for racism. It’s not one and done. This will be a process.”
Last week, the district’s English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) delivered a Statement of Solidarity in support of the student demands and the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the committee acknowledged the “deep roots of racism, colorism and anti-blackness that exist within our Latinx community.”
June 19, 2020: SBUSD Voice Support for Black Student Youth Demands
June 10, 2020:
June 8, 2020: