HUDSON -- The Hudson School Board will revisit a potential equity audit of the district at a later meeting, when more proposals are available.

An equity audit would show the district what its current situation is, Superintendent Nick Ouellette said, and would be the first step for the board to develop a long-term, systemic change.

“We have to know where you’re starting and it can’t just be: do a survey and call it good,” Ouellette said.

The district needs to have both the quantitative and qualitative pieces, meeting with different groups in the district and looking at the topic through a variety of lenses.

The board had two proposals to review at its Monday, Oct. 13, meeting.

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Ouellette recommended moving forward with the equity as soon as possible. His recommended consultant Integrated Comprehensive Systems for Equity could have the final audit done by the start of 2021 so the district could get to work as soon as possible.

Board member Sue Kattas said the district needs more than two options, and suggested five as a good number. She said she wants to see different ideas of how equity audits are done and find a great fit for the district.

Board member Bruce Hanson said moving forward fast is important, but was comfortable waiting until the next board meeting to review additional proposals. Ouellette said he would reach out to additional firms, though proposals take some time to make.

Board member Heather Logelin said discussions on what the district needs to address equity have included a potential advisory committee. She said the board could think about moving ahead with that even before an equity audit is complete.

In addition to the audit proposals, Ouellette has connected with the Great Lakes Equity Center, which specializes in after-audit work, including staff training. Working with this group could help the district keep up with a constant review, Ouellette said. It is a grant-based organization and would be at no cost to the district.

Equity has been on the forefront for the district since the beginning of the year, Ouellette said. It became a regular discussion point for the board in June, following George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis.

The focus will continue with the district's curriculum improvement process. This year’s themes are equity, alignment and empowerment, and they will guide the district as it does its curriculum work.

Community call for action

A group of community members submitted a petition, with more than 1,200 signatures, calling on the district to focus on “anti-racist, BIPOC and LGBTQ inclusive conversations, policies and currriculum.” The petition includes specific action items, including establishing a forum of students, parents and interested persons, cultural competency training for staff and curriculum changes that integrate Black, Native American and LGBTQ stories and expand students’ worldviews.

“For students to be successful post-secondary, they need to have exposure to diversity within the curriculum. We don’t want students to wonder why they didn’t learn these things in their K-12 education while other schools do,” the petition stated.

In public comment, supporters of the petition highlighted the importance of active work to make the district diverse and inclusive for all of its students. Several shared personal stories of discrimination and microaggressions that they or their children have experienced within the district.