LCPS's Equity Journey

 


Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) has engaged in ongoing equity efforts that reach back to the creation of the Vision 2020 strategic framework in 2015. Since that time, many actions have been taken by the division to ensure that LCPS provides an equitable and respectful environment for all students.

 

As Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams recently said in a speech to the Loudoun NAACP, “In Loudoun County Public Schools, we often refer to our equity work as journey work because it is not something that involves checking a box or a series of boxes. I must lead systemic, ongoing work that involves shared accountability with individuals and groups both internal and external to Loudoun County Public Schools.

 

“The phrase ‘ongoing work’ is a double-edged sword. On one hand, we recognize that systems change takes time and so we must persistently bring an equity lens to our work, day in and day out. On the other hand, our black and brown children do not have time to wait for equity. They only get one chance at a K-12 education.”

 

That imperative is driving LCPS’ efforts to its goal of providing a safe, empathetic, respectful and supportive learning environment in order to empower every student to make meaningful contributions to the world. 

 

Among them, LCPS has strived to close opportunity gaps by increasing access to high-quality after-school STEM enrichment programs. Funding for the PROPEL and LEVEL UP programs has been increased so that more students are prepared for academically rigorous coursework in middle and high school and at the Academies of Loudoun. The outreach and recruitment process for the Academies of Loudoun has been revised and the school division is in the process of considering revisions to the admissions process. Additionally, an outreach coordinator is now on staff at the Academies.

 

The Human Resources and Talent Development (HRTD) Department has added capability and implemented new recruitment strategies to focus efforts on hiring a more diverse teaching staff. As a result of steps taken – including adding a diversity recruiter position and attending job fairs at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and, starting in 2016, implementing unconscious bias training for hiring managers across the division – the proportion of ethnically/racially diverse licensed staff members increased 7.1% between the 2016-17 school year and the current school year, to 13.5% of licensed staff.

 

More recently, the Superintendent commissioned an equity assessment that was conducted by The Equity Collaborative. The division continues its work with the Ad Hoc Committee on Equity and partners of the school division to pursue the recommendations in the assessment. 

 

These recommendations include extensive professional development in equity and cultural competence for staff. This year all school staff will complete the first module of the division-wide Equity in the Center program, a multi-session journey of learning for school staff aimed at addressing issues of race, bias, and cultural insensitivity. The school division also added new positions and staff members to provide leadership in this area, including a Director of Equity and a Specialist for Equity and Cultural Competence. 

 

While LCPS continues to make strides on our equity journey, accountability is a part of our journey too. To that end, LCPS recently was informed by letter that the Virginia Office of the Attorney General is undertaking an investigation into aspects of admissions to the Academies of Loudoun, as well as the actions we have taken in response to the equity assessment.        

 

Following is LCPS’ statement in response to questions we’ve received about the inquiry:

 

Loudoun County Public Schools is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, equitable, respectful and supportive learning environment for every student. LCPS is cooperating fully with an investigation by the Virginia Attorney General’s Office into allegations that some students were denied equal opportunities to participate in the Academies of Loudoun, and LCPS’ actions in response to an equity assessment that was commissioned by the Superintendent and published in June. LCPS has initially provided a partial response to the Attorney General's comprehensive inquiry, and is developing the remaining information required to provide a complete response.

 

LCPS acknowledges that institutional change is simultaneously difficult and rewarding, and we have more work to do. It is among the most important work we do because of the deep impact it has on our nearly 84,000 students. We appreciate the community’s support and contributions as we move forward.