Equity Director signals ‘significant changes’ in schools administration

City Schools Decatur Superintendent David Dude announced last week that he’s hiring an equity director to narrow the disproportionality between black and white students. The news came before a packed room of about 150 at CSD’s central office during a panel discussion hosted by the Beacon Hill Branch of the NAACP.

During a brief interview after the program Dude added more.

“This equity director,” he said, “is part of a bigger plan. We are making significant changes [within CSD’s administration].”

He wouldn’t elaborate further except to say that he is no longer hiring a deputy superintendent. He said a complete announcement of changes would come during the next school board meeting on Feb. 21.

Dude began advertising for a deputy last October. CSD hasn’t had a clearly defined second-in-command since Thomas Van Soelen, associate superintendent under Dude’s predecessor Phyllis Edward, resigned in June 2013.

Last week, Dude gave a presentation similar to what he initially offered the school board last October. He demonstrated achievement gaps in math and English at several different grade levels, along with huge gaps in discipline. For instance, black students are eight times as likely to get disciplined.

He envisions the equity director going much deeper, examining, among others, disproportionality in attendance, extracurricular participation and grade retention. He also sees the director responsible for analyzing data, holding community engagement sessions and organizing “professional learning” for staff regarding cultural differences among students.

The position will likely be full time. Though other systems have positions with identical titles, Dude admitted there really isn’t a model for his conception of the job.