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An Update from the FASNY DEI Task Force

To our FASNY community,

We hope that you have all had a healthy and enjoyable summer. Over the course of the last few months, our Racial Equality and Inclusion Task Force, now named the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to broaden the scope of our work, has been researching and tackling the issues of racism and equality within the six domains we presented in June. 

Just as ongoing research and conversations with experts have guided our reopening plans amid the pandemic, so, too, have they guided our plans to take action in intensifying and expanding our antiracism work so that our commitment is clear and demonstrated in all areas of FASNY life. 

In the case of our DEI work, you, our students, parents, alums and faculty & staff, have guided our work, sharing your experiences and professional recommendations for taking the next step in exemplifying what it means to be an inclusionary, equitable, and just institution. We thank everyone for sharing their stories, for making time and space for constructive dialogue, and for your belief in our capacity to more visibly live our mission and learning principles. 

We especially want to take a moment to recognize and thank all of the contributors to the Black@FASNY Instagram account. Sharing your experiences was not easy and we sincerely thank you for educating our greater FASNY community, for allowing us to listen and learn, and for compelling us to make positive changes for the well-being of all. We urge all members of our FASNY community to take the time to read through these experiences of our Black students and alumni. 

Throughout our work, the DEI Task Force presented the Board of Trustees with a number of both long- and short-term recommendations for implementation within the six domains. Today, we would like to share with you the short term recommendations that have already been or are to be implemented for the start of this school year. 

Within the Institutional Domain, the task force recommended that the Board of Trustees create a Diversity Committee, which was completed this summer. We also urged to increase racial diversity on the Board which was supported by the addition of new Board members in the spring of 2020. Currently, the Board has also approved the Diversity Statement posted on the FASNY website and is reviewing the School's Mission Statement to speak more directly to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. 

The Organization Domain aided in the modifying of the Code of Conduct in all student handbooks, and the Pre and Lower School contracts to include language around anti-racism and discrimination. All students and parents will sign off on the reading of these at the start of the school year. Through this domain, the divisions are currently working on the reporting and investigation process of incidents with specific contact persons on each campus to be identified. The DEI can also be directly contacted through our website. 

The most pressing goal of the Training Domain was to hire a Diversity Consultant for the FASNY community. The Domain also suggested creating a post for Director of Diversity among our staff, and we will look to increase training for interested faculty & staff members. 

We are pleased to say that we have partnered with Dr. Derrick Gay, a world-renown diversity practioner, to work with our faculty & staff, students, and parents throughout the year. A multilingual educator, Dr. Gay spent the afternoon with our entire faculty & staff on Wednesday, laying the foundation for our work regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The focus of our first workshop was on identity and developing intercultural competency. Dr. Gay will spend some time with the task force this fall, and also hold workshops for our parents and students throughout the year.

The Pedagogy and Curriculum Domain highlighted the importance of reviewing both what is taught and how it is taught. To help coordinate this work, a DEI Committee for pedagogy/curriculum will be formed on each campus. Teachers will re-examine their teaching practices in order to identify implicit biases, following the intervention by Dr. Gay and making use of shared resources. The P&C Domain highlighted the importance of implementing sensitive, proactive classroom management that protects and welcomes all students. Librarians and faculty will review reading lists, scopes and sequences, and course themes to ensure they highlight Black excellence and include a more holistic treatment of the history and experiences of minorities. The P&C Domain also encouraged the School to examine its practices not only within the classroom, but also with its programming, trips, assemblies, and its use of campus space to foster a more representative and inclusive community.

Within the Human Resources and Admissions Domain, there is ongoing work being done to recruit both faculty & staff and families of color. HR policies are being developed and edited regarding incidents that are reported and investigated. The DEI Task Force has also recommended hiring DEI professionals to keep on staff, in the meantime internal point people will be trained for both faculty & staff and student reporting. 

A top priority of the Communications Domain was to add a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page on our website, inclusive of our evergreen Diversity Statement, contact information, and continual updates to the work being done within our FASNY community. The School will also be implementing training with our teachers to allow for issues of racism and discrimination to be discussed in real-time during Home Room/Heure De Vie periods. At the high school and middle school level, Student Governments will be more involved in school-wide discussions and activities regarding diversity. Finally, our marketing efforts will be adjusted to reach more families of color and showcase FASNY's commitment to diversity. 

This important DEI work has only just begun, with many long-term goals and strategies on the horizon, however as a task force we are encouraged to see many of these short-term goals being implemented as we begin the 2020-2021 school year. 

We thank you again for your continued support and desire to create a more inclusive community for all at FASNY, we look forward to sharing more updates of our work in the future. 

Sincerely, 
The DEI Task Force
deitaskforce@fasny.org
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French-American School of New York International and Bilingual School