City Schools Decatur revamps, expands its equity department

City Schools of Decatur has revised its equity department, actually merging two sections into the Equity and Student Support department whose executive director is Lillie Huddleston. Originally hired as equity director in July 2017, Huddleston’s reconfigured department oversees, among others, school nurses, school psychologists, academic support, school counseling and social work while addressing the needs of homeless students.

CSD has also created a new position of equity coordinator, hiring Mari Ann Banks who begins work this week. In a recent interview Huddleston said Banks’ job includes “partnering with the [10 Decatur] schools and supporting their work in equity.”

This assimilation and expansion relates in part to the death last December of longtime CSD staffer Bruce Roaden, who was executive director of student support. The athletics department, which previously fell under Roaden's purview, has been shifted to Dr. Maggie Fehrman who's executive director of schools.

One major initiative under Huddleston is implementing Beyond Diversity Level I, two days of training that eventually all 750 CSD employees will take. In a recent interview Superintendent David Dude said, “[This training] gets down to addressing people’s inner beliefs and biases and helping them question why they think and what they think.”

Also this past year Huddleston and her team rolled out the Equity Action Plan that outlines strategies for addressing equity the next three years.

“We want to make inroads on eliminating the achievement gap,” she said. “We want to narrow it along racial lines, particularly in reading and math. We also want to see increased representation [of minorities] in all programs and in gifted and advanced courses.”