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District 196 board approves members of new Equity Advisory Council

The District 196 School Board approved the inaugural members of the district’s new Equity Advisory Council (EAC) at its Sept. 28 regular meeting.

Superintendent Mary Kreger announced creation of the EAC during a July board meeting where she detailed the district’s heightened focus on equity and efforts to end systemic racism. In June, the School Board approved a resolution denouncing the killing of George Floyd and reinforcing the district’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. The resolution directs Kreger to develop recommendations to address racial inequalities in District 196 schools.

The EAC is comprised of parents, community members, high school students, district administrators, principals, teachers and other staff. There are 24 appointed positions and seven ex-officio members. Interested persons were invited to apply for the appointed positions in August. A committee of ex-officio members reviewed applications and recommended the slate of candidates to the full board. The committee assigned members to one- or two-year terms this first time only. All future appointments to the EAC will be two-year terms, beginning July 1, with approximately half the positions up each year.

The appointed members include parents Leigh Collier, Shaun Pannu and Scott Tryggeseth; at-large community members Pha Chia Moua and Luis Fernando Salguero; high school students Kira Adenwala, Jacob Dereje, Grantham Green, Emma Huppert, Lee Mbiyu and Sahasra Molleti; principals and assistant principal Calvin Keasling, Cathy Kindem and Becky Melville; teachers Michael Gillis, Tian Grace, Kathryn Haave, Lauren Nelson, Julie Wavrunek and Carol Wekesser; assistant administrators Alyssa Bartosh and Carita Green; Cultural Family Advocate Veronica Ramos, and Dakota County United Educators President Kate Schmidt. Ex-officio members of the EAC are School Board Members Sachin Isaacs, Cory Johnson and Jackie Magnuson; Superintendent Kreger; Director of Elementary Education Sally Soliday; Director of Secondary Education Michael Bolsoni, and Coordinator of Equity and Inclusion Robin Gordon.

The EAC has authority to make recommendations to the Superintendent’s Cabinet on potential changes needed to ensure equitable practices and systems, and to eliminate the predictability of student achievement based upon race, gender, special education status or eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals. The council’s role is to participate in analysis of data related to student achievement, attendance and discipline; the review of programs and services; community outreach to address the needs of underrepresented families, and to offer multiple perspectives and voice on matters of student equity and inclusion. The group’s first meeting is Oct. 8, 6-8 p.m.

For more information on the EAC and the district’s other advisory councils and committees, look under “Community” at www.District196.org