ASHLAND, Ore. — The Ashland School District announced on Monday that its school board has passed a resolution in support of Black Lives Matter, referencing the recent killing of former student Aidan Ellison as a reminder of the importance of working for equity and justice in the community.
"[The] BLM resolution acknowledges the systemic barriers that exist for Black students in our schools, our community and our country," the District said in a statement. "The resolution is an important step in addressing issues of equity and inclusivity now and as we work to educate future citizens and leaders for a bright and just future for all."
The Oregon State Board of Education passed a similar resolution in October.
Even prior to the state-level statement, Ashland School District had enacted a new Equity Policy in June, part of an effort to acknowledge and address "the role that racial disparities play in achieving equity and inclusive education opportunities for all students." The Black Lives Matter message has featured on school leaderboards since May, following the death of George Floyd.
ASD said that it has also formed an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Steering Committee to work on methods toward greater equity and inclusion in Ashland schools, helping to support to District's equity policy and BLM resolution.
"The Steering Committee will work with schools to promote effective practices and evaluate progress using student measures," the District said. The committee is chaired by Andrea Townsend, ASD's director of Equity and Inclusion, and has members drawn from each school.
The Ashland School Board is set to meet on December 16 to enact the "All Students Belong" policy — spurred by the state board's decision in September to ban images of Confederate flags, swastikas, and nooses — that will outline the consequences for use of hate symbols and the response to bias incidents.
"The recent shooting of a former Ashland High School student, Aidan Ellison, a young Black man, on November 23, 2020, is a reminder of the importance of working for a more equitable and just community through education," the District said.