Equity Task Force Members Announced
Kalamazoo Public School announced the members of its Equity Task Force at the April 22 Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri said the district was pleased to receive 125 applications for the task force, indicating an unexpectedly high interest in the work the group will undertake.
“The responses to the application questions demonstrated that we have a truly passionate group of people in Kalamazoo committed to finding solutions to our equity challenges,” Raichoudhuri said. “Tonight, I am pleased to announce the applicants who were selected to serve on the KPS Equity Task Force. These 16 members represent a balance of stakeholder groups and diverse identities, cultures, races, genders, religions, a cross section of age groups from the 20s to 70s, and a rich variety of life and professional experiences.”
Raichoudhuri announced plans to form a task force in the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. In December, she put out a call for applications, saying the purpose of the team would be to, “eliminate and dismantle racism and other forms of intolerance and discrimination within the district’s practices, policies, goals, curriculum and culture to support positive and meaningful impact in Kalamazoo.”
The application said, “Team members should have the ability to exercise empathy and build strong trust, collaboration and communication among diverse identities and membership.”
Here is the make-up of the task force: nine out of the16 members are people of color, including members who identify as black, Latinx, Native American, Asian, and Middle Eastern/Arab. Two members identify as LGBTQ, and six identified as male and the others as female.
Stakeholder groups included KPS employees, parents, and community partners. Eight out of the 16 members indicated that they are affiliated with multiple stakeholder groups. Eight are parents, seven are community partners, and seven are KPS employees. The KPS employee group includes teachers, school staff, school leaders, and district leaders.
The members of the Equity Task Force, listed alphabetically by last name, are:
Chris Aguinaga, principal of Loy Norrix High School
Nkenge Bergan, director of Student Services and KPS parent
Dorla Coleman-Bonner, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the City of Kalamazoo
Patricia Carlin, mental health provider and staff at Northeastern Elementary
James Devers, executive director of Communities in School Kalamazoo and former KPS parent
Micole Dyson, principal of Woods Lake Elementary: A Center for the Arts
Angela Gross, a Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency bilingual support staff, parent advocate, and KPS parent
Jen Young Heymoss, from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, a former KPS teacher, and soon to be KPS parent
Matt McCullough, director of Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development for KPS and KPS parent
Kawther Mohammed, a bilingual/migrant paraprofessional at Milwood Magnet School and KPS parent
Jason Morris, former KPS Board of Education trustee and KPS parent
Bridget Timmeney, researcher with The W.E. Upjohn Institute and KPS parent
Adrian Vasquez, executive director of El Concilio
Laird Walker, KRESA social emotional learning and restorative justice coach
Deb Evans, KPS teacher, Hillside Middle School
Christina Getachew, KPS parent
The work of the task force will begin on May 26 with a half day of learning about how brain psychology impacts bias. The task force is expected to work on issues of equity and inclusion in the district for the next 18 months.