Hartland Schools Creates DEI Committee, Sets Implicit Bias Training
April 2, 2021
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Following revelations of racial harassment of a student in the Hartland Consolidated School District, officials have created a new committee and scheduled a training event.
In his weekly letter to district stakeholders (posted below), Hartland Superintendent Chuck Hughes said he has been working closely with the Board of Education to “chart the path forward for our students and staff” in the aftermath of incidents detailed on social media by a Black high school student. 18-year-old Tatayana Vanderlaan said she had been repeatedly called racist names while attending Hartland High School, including the n-word, and that in one instance she was ridiculed about her hair and her appearance, and that a teacher “heard it all and said nothing.”
She also said after posting about her experiences on Facebook, she received threats, including that she should be “lynched.” That prompted an investigation by the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office. Undersheriff Jeff Warder tells WHMI that their investigation “is just about completed” and it has been sent to the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office for their review.
Hughes says the Board was supportive of creating a “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee” that will be chaired by David Minsker, Asst. Supt. of Curriculum & Instruction; Scott VanEpps, Asst. Supt. of Personnel and Student Services; and Kate Gregory, Hartland High School Principal. It would also include Board Secretary Michelle Hemeyer and Trustee Kristin Coleman. According to the communication, there will also be an open seat for each meeting so that different members of the Board of Education can periodically sit in on meetings, with Board President Thom Dumond serving as the first guest member.
The “DEI Committee,” as it was referred to, will start its work with a four-hour Implicit Bias training on Friday, April 30th, which will be led by Alfredo Hernandez with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. Hughes says following that training, the DEI Committee will hold its first full meeting, adding that he believes “this group represents the district well and will move us forward in a positive way.”