“Hate will never be welcome or tolerated in the South Fayette Township School District.”
That’s the first sentence in a new policy on equity and diversity the school district’s board is considering. Its members were expected to vote on the measure Nov. 26. At the same time, the board is also revising its policies on bullying, cyberbullying and unlawful harassment.
The policy is an outgrowth of the district’s strategic plan, according to Kenneth Lockette, the district’s superintendent.
“It’s something that we needed to recognize,” he explained.
South Fayette is a growing district, and one that is notably more diverse than most of the districts that surround it. The township has a large Indian population, and about 14% of the students enrolled in the district have an Asian background.
The policy states that “the district shall proactively endeavor to identify class and cultural biases as well as practices, policies, and institutional barriers that negatively influence student learning, perpetuate opportunity gaps, and impede equal access to all students for full participation in the SFTSD community.”
It goes on to say that behaviors “that create an unsafe, intimidating or hostile learning environment for students will not be tolerated and allegations of such conduct will be investigated.”
At the same time, the district’s policies on unlawful harassment, bullying and cyberbullying are being updated so that they work “in concert” with the equity and diversity policy, according to Lockette. The bullying and harassment policies now contain restorative and reconciliation policies for malefactors that include interactions with a school counselor or social worker, a referral to the district’s student assistance program and service-oriented opportunities.
Lockette acknowledged that there have been instances of harassment or bullying within the district, but they are “not rampant.”
“People do make mistakes,” he said.