GREENDALE -- Nearly a year after Greendale students called attention to a tense racial climate in their schools, district leaders on Monday, Oct. 21 announced they would move forward with an action plan created by a communitywide steering committee with a mission of creating a more inclusive environment for students -- funded by Greendale Schools and the Village of Greendale.
The superintendent missed the first part of the two-part meeting on Friday, leading some parents to believe he wasn't taking this seriously. However, he said the district is fully committed to this initiative.
In fall 2018, a student was suspended after confronting another student for calling her the "n-word." Her mother said the district reversed the suspension, but it wasn't enough to make her daughter want to remain a student at the school. That mother became part of the steering committee focused on a more inclusive environment for Greendale students.
"I want real change," said Diannia Merriett. "I want real policies that's going to help students being discriminated against."
Superintendent Gary Kiltz told FOX6 News the district would move forward with the action plan crafted by the committee, with the district also a partner.
"This is taking it to a whole other level," said Superintendent Kiltz. "We're committed to making sure each and every student that comes to Greendale Schools feels a sense of belonging."
ACLU of Wisconsin officials and parents from the Parents Advocating for Greendale Equity (P.A.G.E.) group criticized Superintendent Kiltz for missing part one of the two-part meeting, which was Friday.
"I'm not sure where his priority is when it comes to diversity," said Merriett. "If it's a priority, I think he should have been at an event that he helped initiate."
Superintendent Kiltz said he had another obligation on Friday.
"We had a strong team from the district that was able to deliver the message and carry on the mission," said Kiltz.
He said the district's committed to implementing the action plan, which is broken up into four components built around racial diversity, equity, and inclusion.
"Working with our students and our staff to make sure that we have a level of cultural competence," said Kiltz.
Some examples included drafting strong anti-racism policies, adding cultural elements to existing festivals in the village, as well as looking into teacher recruitment practices.
"We want to make sure that our pool of teachers reflects the diversity of our students, as well," said Kiltz.
Only time will tell whether the solutions drafted will create change for students and the community.
"I'm very happy the village has taken that lead and hopefully the school district will follow," said Merriett.