WESTFORD — Westford schools will soon be adding equity language to each of its student handbooks.
During a May 23 School Committee meeting, the committee unanimously voted to include the proposal into the Westford Academy student handbook. In addition, they voted to include the statement in elementary and middle school handbooks.
Students push for inclusion and equity statement
“Clearly, what the [Westford Academy] students wanted was a statement on our beliefs and values as a school,” said Dean of Students Dan Twomey. “Like taunting, those three words [diversity, equity and inclusion] do not appear in the handbook.”
He continued, “I took it upon myself. A lot of time and effort, research and reading a lot of things to formulate something.”
A draft of the statement is being considered by student and administrative groups.
“It continues to go through the right groups, organizations and committees,” he said. It keeps getting better. But what is missing from the handbook is that statement.
He continued, “I think it’s something we all believe in, and what other better way to put it than to clearly express it in your handbook and share it with your students.”
School Committee expresses support
School Committee Chair Chris Sanders and Superintendent of Schools Christopher Chew endorsed the statement. They noted that they hope to see similar provisions in each school’s handbook.
“That would be amazing, to see that translated to the appropriate level of the schools. And to get students involved at those levels as well,” said Sanders.
Chew urged the inclusion of the statement in both elementary and middle school handbooks, which were both approved with a 4-1 vote during a May 9 School Committee meeting. Chew had previously attended a meeting with the Westford Public Schools DEI team in which they discussed how this statement could be applied to younger levels.
“We talked about the formality of a statement as well as the kid-friendly nature. People were very excited about having something specific to post in classrooms that would be age appropriate to unpack and talk about,” said Chew. “All of the different levels agreed that ‘this is fantastic, this is formal.'”
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