Del Mar school district to address racial equality at upcoming meeting

Del Mar Union School District administration building.
(File photo)

The Del Mar Union School District board plans to have a discussion about its role in promoting equality and addressing inequalities due to racism at its July 22 board meeting. Board members said they hope that the meeting will start a much-needed dialogue in the community.

“At this time more than ever all of our institutions should turn a magnifying glass to review their own practices and ensure racial equality,” said DMUSD President Erica Halpern at the board’s June 24 meeting. “Certainly school districts have a critical role in helping raise children in an inclusive environment grounded in racial awareness and sensitivity.”

On June 3, DMUSD Superintendent Holly McClurg sent a message to parents about the death of George Floyd and other recent, racially charged incidents that have resulted in protests across the country including locally. She said in normal times, the classroom would be a safe place to discuss race, inequities, the history of racial injustice and recent events with children and that is something the district is looking to do this fall.

Clerk Gee Wah Mok said he appreciated McClurg’s message and the district’s desire to address injustice in the classroom and to have age-appropriate discussions.

“When issues of systemic racism are raised, we literally are part of the system. What our children learn now, they take into shaping their world view as adults. It’s absolutely crucial that we educate our students in a manner that teaches them to seek fairness and equality for all in the world, particularly given our relative lack of relative socio-economic diversity,” Mok said. “The uncomfortable conversations need to happen now so they become less uncomfortable when they encounter these issues as adults…

“I believe it’s our obligation to educate future leaders who seek a more just, equitable and fair society.”

As the district has routinely stressed, the health and safety of students is their highest priority and McClurg said these conversations speak to the social and emotional health of every child and the district’s responsibility to help raise well-rounded children who are positive contributors to society.

McClurg said as a school district, they are focused on eradicating racism and promoting social justice—they have started to have conversations with the Anti-Defamation League to participate in the No Place For Hate education initiative and are developing plans to engage in staff anti-bias training.

“We know this is not one conversation, it’s not one year, it’s not one committee. It’s actually a commitment that we have to doing this together,” McClurg said. “We take that very seriously and know that we have this opportunity to actually make a big difference.”