Student artwork faces drawing

DEI Action Steps and Town Hall Meetings

Dear Fami­lies,

We want to update you on the progress we’ve made on the steps outlined in the letter of July 12 regard­ing our work to create a truly just and equi­table envi­ron­ment at The Waverly School.

This summer, the admin­is­tra­tive team has engaged in deep personal and insti­tu­tional reflec­tion and has taken the time to vigor­ously analyze the causes of our various fail­ures and find the best path forward. We commit ourselves to becom­ing fully respon­sive to the needs of all our students, with partic­u­lar atten­tion and dedi­ca­tion to those BIPOC students whom we have failed. It is our goal to create an insti­tu­tion that inhab­its justice in every form. 

We are looking forward to engag­ing in frequent, open, and trans­par­ent commu­ni­ca­tion with all members of the commu­nity to the fullest extent possi­ble. This is an impor­tant step as we work together towards putting a collab­o­ra­tive vision of our commu­nity into place. 

Account­abil­ity means taking respon­si­bil­ity. Our first step is to work with those outside of our commu­nity who can help us engage in a mean­ing­ful self-reflec­tion and crit­i­cal self-assess­ment. This process has already begun.

Simul­ta­ne­ously, we can be respon­sive right now. Here are some of the action items that are in progress for this school year:

  1. Working with the Cali­for­nia Confer­ence for Equity and Justice (CCEJ), we will undergo a compre­hen­sive struc­tural assess­ment of our school climate and culture. All members of the commu­nity will be invited to engage in this process, to partic­i­pate in cross-sectional groups, includ­ing those with students and adults. The find­ings of this process will inform our ongoing work.
  2. We will also work with CCEJ to empower students with restora­tive justice lead­er­ship train­ing in advo­cacy and empathy and provid­ing our faculty with values-based facil­i­ta­tion train­ing to ensure the sustain­abil­ity of these prac­tices. We will hold space for every­one who has been harmed as well as for those who seek to make amends.
  3. We have thor­oughly revised our inci­dent proto­cols in order to consis­tently employ restora­tive justice strate­gies to address harms. We are working with Mari­anne Frap­well, Senior Manager and Survivor Advo­cate for Project S.A.F.E. at Occi­den­tal College, to train admin­is­tra­tion in infus­ing trauma-informed and survivor-centered approaches into our policy and process. All faculty will receive instruc­tion and profes­sional devel­op­ment in trauma-informed practices.
  4. We are commit­ted to support­ing the mission of Raven Advo­cates whose mandate will be center­ing student voices in matters of report­ing and resolv­ing commu­nity conflict. We are commit­ted to train­ing these students as peer coun­selors and sustain­ing their work and initiatives.
  5. We will also be part­ner­ing with All Voices, an online plat­form that will allow employ­ees and parents to anony­mously provide feed­back to school lead­er­ship and engage in dialogue without reveal­ing their iden­ti­ties. After pilot­ing the program with adults in the commu­nity in coming months, the school will consider its possi­ble uses for anony­mous commu­ni­ca­tion between high school students and admin­is­tra­tion as well.
  6. We are creat­ing space in the sched­ule for regular affin­ity group meet­ings and plan to expand affin­ity space offer­ings to ensure that all students can come together in commu­nity around the aspects of iden­tity that are most salient for them.
  7. We have commit­ted a portion of the high school sched­ule to a student-led social and emotional space, created regular social and emotional morning space, and have expanded and resourced the Well­ness program in ways that support our multicultural community.
  8. We look forward to sharing more about the hiring of a coun­selor who will work with students in affin­ity space and partic­i­pate in the DEI work of the school.
  9. As a part of their work to imple­ment the Teach­ing Toler­ance Social Justice Stan­dards, the elemen­tary teach­ing teams have worked with Monique Marshall, a widely respected consul­tant on DEI and curricu­lum devel­op­ment. We have iden­ti­fied race, ethnic­ity, and immi­gra­tion as the aspects of iden­tity that elemen­tary classes will focus on as they develop their class themes and teach the TT Social Justice Stan­dards next year.
  10. The admin­is­tra­tion is working with many BIPOC faculty members on propos­als to create stipended faculty DEI lead­er­ship posi­tions that repre­sent all divi­sions of the school.
  11. We are working with parents to create a parent DEI educa­tion commit­tee with the goal of offer­ing two to four parent educa­tion events next year and launch­ing parent affin­ity groups for all who are inter­ested. Parents of BIPOC students have already begun meeting this month and plan to meet on a monthly basis; they have requested that I attend these meet­ings moving forward and I will enthu­si­as­ti­cally do so. We are working with AwareLA to facil­i­tate white anti-racist work in the parent body, as well.

In order to achieve ongoing account­abil­ity and promote collab­o­ra­tive commu­nity involve­ment, we are commit­ted to imple­ment­ing the follow­ing measures. Once the parent group is estab­lished, we will call a council of the leaders of the faculty/​admin DEI efforts, the chairs of the board DEI commit­tee, the chairs of the parent DEI educa­tion commit­tee, and student leaders of the BIPOC affin­ity group and the white Anti-Racist affin­ity group. This council will meet three to four times a year to report out on actions and progress, share resources, and provide assis­tance to one another. The work of this council will be shared regu­larly with the entire Waverly community. 

There is much to be done, and the steps we have outlined here are but a few of the many we need to take. 

I look forward to discussing these and other steps with you in upcom­ing town hall meet­ings, sched­uled for Thurs­day, August 20, at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, August 25, at 10:00 a.m. Please RSVP to either town hall meeting and submit your ques­tions in advance to Meg Brad­bury at meg@​thewaverlyschool.​org.

With hope and resolve,

Heidi Johnson
Head of School