After finding that BIPOC students and staff experience racism in Surrey schools, the Surrey Board of Education has unanimously supported to move forward a motion to promote anti-racism and equity. The vote came during the most recent public board meeting, Wednesday, Sept. 14.
The board commissioned a report to collect information from BIPOC members from schools on experiences of racism, which was shared in November 2021. Three initiatives were put forth by Supt. Mark Pearmain, in collaboration with the district’s Racial Equity Advisory Committee, which the board unanimously approved.
“Our district has clear policies on creating safe and caring environments for our staff and students,” Laurie Larsen, chair of Surrey Board of Education stated in a release.
“But we also recognize that there is more work needed. These recommendations are an important first step and provide a foundation for building a more equitable school district.”
The committee members recommended the district take steps to establish policies on social justice and condemn racism in all forms in order to abolish hate within schools.
“Racial equity ensures that all students and staff have an environment that recognizes and honours the dignity, humanity, and potential of everyone. Furthermore, racial equity is essential for every student to be able to learn, achieve success, collaborate and create with others, and become contributing members working to the moral health of society,” reads a statement from the Racial Equity Advisory Committee to Pearmain.
One of the steps the district took was releasing to the public the findings from the environmental scan and committee recommendations. One scan was done for the whole district, while another was done on Queen Elizabeth Secondary at the request of the administration team, which can be found on Surrey Schools’ website.
The district is also in the process of developing a racial equity department, for which they are recruiting members. Two staff members have been hired for the department, but they are still on the lookout for a director of racial equity.
Building off the department, the board is planning to present a five-year plan in June to address how Surrey Schools will address racial inequity. The recommendations laid out by the committee are being implemented in the plan.
School Board meetings take placeonce a month for the Surrey district. The next one is scheduled for Oct. 12.