Education Equity School Board Questionnaires: Red Clay

We teamed up with the Building People Power Education Issue Campaign to distribute a survey to all Red Clay school board candidates and current school board members to find out where they stand on issues of race and equity in the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Below are the answers that we've gotten so far. This page will be updated as we recieve more answers from candidates and board members.

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Preview and jump to each question here:

  1. Do you support School Resource Officers (SRO) and Constables in schools? Please explain your position.
  2. Delaware Department of Education data shows that Black, Brown and Special Education students in Red Clay School District are disproportionately represented in discipline referrals, suspensions and arrest. What other steps, beyond existing policies, should the school district take to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all students? 
  3. What does equity mean to you?
  4. How would you work to improve equity in funding and resources allocations in the District?
  5. Do you believe implicit bias impacts students and staff? If so, how will you work to lessen the negative effects of implicit bias within the school district? How will you work to address implicit bias within yourself?
  6. Describe how you would ensure quality education for a diverse student population: i.e. the gifted and talented, the “average” student, students with special educational needs, students with different abilities, English Language learners, low-income students and those with cultural differences.
  7. Are there any other equity, racial justice, or funding goals not talked about above that you hope to accomplish in your term in office?

1. Do you support School Resource Officers (SRO) and Constables in schools? Please explain your position.

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "After talking to families from my communities, former students and doing heavy research, SROs should NOT be in schools with our children. My question is why SROs and Constables in the first place? Students are experiencing record levels of depression, anxiety, and many forms of trauma, even more for Black and Brown children. SROs have done nothing but arrested and punished these children more, when the children should have been provided with services and resources addressing the real issues for their behaviors. Red Clay did an outstanding job with being one of the first districts to implement school safety with adding lock doors, better security, and building access. Now, Red Clay should end their relationships with the police departments, added more therapists and psychologists, extra curricular activities as well as peer mediators for the betterment of our children."
  • Sarah Fulton: "It's clear that we need to rethink the costs and benefits of having armed law enforcement officers in our schools and reevaluate if they are keeping schools safer. There's not a lot of evidence demonstrating that they do; if anything, SROs seem to merely provide the illusion of safety to some - and only some. In recent weeks, we've all been hearing heartfelt stories about how SROs have positive relationships with students and staff - but given everything we know about the school-to-prison pipeline, we should be able to decouple those anecdotes from the realities that our students of color face and the fact that there are clear racial disparities in the way that schools administer punishments. There's a growing body of research that shows how constant police presence (in neighborhoods and in schools) can negatively impact physical and mental health, especially for vulnerable communities of color. In our own state, a study conducted of Delaware SROs found data points such as, “77% of SROs reported having arrested a student simply to calm them down” (Wolf, Arrest Decision Making by School Resource Officers). This report concluded that, “Although they are asked to fill roles in schools that stretch beyond traditional law enforcement duties, SROs act as police officers first and foremost. They tend to replicate arrest decision-making behavior that occurs on the streets.” When it comes to school funding, every dollar matters - so every dollar we spend on police is a dollar not spent on underfunded programs and professionals dedicated to the academic, mental, and social well-being of our students. What's been made abundantly clear over the last month as this policy has been on the table is that we MUST free up the funds to hire more counselors and mental health professionals. What I like about the current proposal to remove SROs is that it provides immediate funding to do this. Achieving school safety means fostering an environment where students feel safe and have access to the resources they need to address mental health and behavioral concerns. Far too often, conversations about school safety begin and end with school resource officers. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a singular staff member, as opposed to addressing a school’s overall climate. There are certain things that SROs simply can’t and shouldn’t be responsible for - like counseling and other trauma-informed mental health interventions."

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "I do not support constables nor do I support the current climate with SRO’s in our schools. I am in support of reallocating funds to go towards mental health counselors, wrap around services, and social workers or preventative services."

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "I do not believe law enforcement officers should be in schools. I believe the governance of discipline should be shifted from the criminal justice arena back to the district. The reason for my position is that the data clearly indicate that as the number of law enforcement officers in schools increase, commonplace adolescent behaviors become more and more criminalized. In fact, the growth of SROs and constables in schools is correlated with an increased rate of school-based arrests. In addition to criminalizing low level school infractions and behavioral outbursts, federal data clearly indicates that children of color and students with disabilities in schools with law enforcement experience disproportionate harm. Data from the US Department of Education (2015-2016) reveals that students with disabilities were arrested at a rate of 29 per 10,000 students, nearly three times higher than their non-disabled peers. Black students had an arrest rate of 28 per 10,000, which was three times that of white students. Native American and Pacific Island/Native Hawaiian students both had arrest rates of 22 per 10,000, more than twice the arrest rate of white students. Nationally, Latinx students were arrested at a rate 1.3 times that of white students (11 per 10,000 compared to 9 per 10,000). School districts should reallocate all current and future funds dedicated to law enforcement in schools to instead hire highly trained professionals who are familiar with the students and communities they are serving, and who are also committed to providing trauma-informed interventions at early ages to help support students when they first begin to show signs that intervention and help is needed."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered

2. Delaware Department of Education data shows that Black, Brown and Special Education students in Red Clay School District are disproportionately represented in discipline referrals, suspensions and arrest. What other steps, beyond existing policies, should the school district take to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all students?

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "Red Clay must ensure fair and equitable treatment for all students. We should have continual trauma informed care professional development. We have to build relationships with our nonprofit and for-profit community partners. We need to improve our wraparound service referrals and communication between in house and referred services, as well as community connection both inside and outside the schools. Take a whole child approach which involves the family (parents, grandparents, guardians, etc.) Have a focus on mental health training for staff. Provide a zoom option for children and staff."
  • Sarah Fulton: "Let me start by applauding Red Clay for a history of getting a head start on equity and inclusion issues by taking steps like hiring chief equity officer, Dr. Bond. And this week, I was delighted to see that Superintendent Green introduced a whole host of new opportunities for students and staff, including bias trainings, town halls/listening sessions, and working groups focused on addressing racial justice in Red Clay. Centering the voices of Black and brown students is critical when it comes to addressing the root cause of some of these disparities mentioned above, as well as how racism in our schools affects academic success. We should do more of this, all throughout the year - we cannot let this be a one-time response. The fact remains that there is a clear imbalance between the way that Black and brown students are punished - especially students with disabilities - in contrast with their white peers. We need resources for more early interventions, (i.e. behavioral specialists), because we know that the school-to-prison pipeline can begin as early as pre-K for students with misdiagnosed behavior problems or other health concerns. Being more proactive in fostering a more compassionate school climate will help to reduce the amount of disciplinary actions taken against students of color. Every decision made by a school district ultimately affects school climate - from the more explicit ones, like adding additional implicit bias trainings or deciding whether or not to keep SROs, to the more subtle ones, like reducing the educator-to-student ratio which gives teachers more time for each student. Another important thing that could help improve school climate would be to create a strategic plan surrounding the climate assessments that educators fill out every year. To comprehensively address disciplinary disparities, we also need to hear the perspectives of educators."

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "Every student, staff, and administrator NEEDS to be trained on how to deal racism and discrimination in our schools. Too often, people witness racial injustices and are afraid to speak against them. This can change by becoming educated."

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "Red Clay needs to fully re-write their code of conduct; everyone who works for the district should have to take the implicit bias test and then they should be provided with training based on their results; the district should have proportional representation in all positions, especially in regards to educators and administrators; the district needs to re-draw feeder patterns so that we no longer have segregated schools in regards to poverty, racism, spec ed status, etc.; the district must remove entrance exams to qualify for magnet and charter school admissions; and the district must provide Talented and Gifted programs in all schools. These policies start us on the path to equity and excellence."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered

3. What does equity mean to you?

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "Equity is meeting everyone exactly where they are, giving them what they need to become successful, those who need more get more. Equality is giving everyone a shoe. Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits.
    Example our current funding formula tells school leaders how many support positions they will get. While School A may need two reading specialists, School B may need one reading specialist and a librarian."
  • Sarah Fulton: "I agree with the definition of equity as put forward by the Redding Consortium: "Educational equity requires safe, secure, and student-focused learning environments where every student is intentionally provided access to the support, resources, and opportunities they need to reach their full academic and social potential, in and out of the classroom." In practice, this means that we have a responsibility to intentionally direct resources where they are needed most." 

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "Equity means giving every student, despite their racial or economic background, the resources they need to live a successful life. My mom was a teacher in the Red Clay School District for 40+ years, and if I learned anything, it’s that there’s not ONE way in which ALL students can learn. Equity means teaching with different techniques and resources that are applicable to each individual student’s learning ability. Special education students are not receiving the education they deserve. Children of color are not receiving the education they deserve. Currently our school system is NOT providing an equitable education."

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "Equity means that as a district we provide the necessary supports students need to be successful. This does not mean students need equal supports. Equity refers to providing all of the supports necessary for success, and these supports may differ between individuals and groups."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered

4. How would you work to improve equity in funding and resources allocations in the District?

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "We must ensure transparency in funding decisions and advocate to streamline the school funding formula so that each child gets what they need. Our district must allocate funds to our schools based on the earned student need."
  • Sarah Fulton: "I'm an advocate for a weighted funding system that more equitably accounts for low-income students, English language learners, and special education students. This will allow us to do a lot of things, including hiring more trained educators, paraprofessionals, counselors, and other professionals to best serve all of our students. We also need to find new ways to incentivize keeping more experienced teachers at our Title I schools. We know that test scores aren’t a good indicator of intellect or academic progress, yet they are used as a metric to assess the success of both students and educators. Therefore, educators who work in higher needs schools are more likely to receive worse performance reviews and/or burn out. Retaining those educators in schools where their experience and passion are needed most is a great way to make our school district more equitable."

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "We need to give more support to our parents and teachers to create personalized learning tracks. This begins with a referendum reform so that the school board is able to set a fixed tax which would go towards funding Delaware education."

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "We need a weighted funding formula financed by the state."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered

5. Do you believe implicit bias impacts students and staff? If so, how will you work to lessen the negative effects of implicit bias within the school district? How will you work to address implicit bias within yourself?

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "I believe that implicit bias impacts students and staff. In my strongest opinion, all staff should engage in Culture Diversity Sensitivity Training. We need to reevaluate our current policies, specifically our discipline policy, as we know these disproportionately impact students of color. We also need to prioritize increasing the number of teachers of color in the district. We know teachers of color have a positive influence on student achievement regardless of race."
  • Sarah Fulton: "Yes, offering implicit bias trainings is a big first step - and auditing the effectiveness of those trainings is the next big step. It's imperative that those trainings are run by the right facilitators, and that they require participants to truly engage with the material. But more importantly, schools must foster an explicitly anti-racist culture, where student and staff feel empowered to learn, to voice their concerns, and to lean on one another in pursuit of a more inclusive working and learning environment. Any students should feel comfortable contributing in class, playing on a team, or trusting that their administrators will listen and do right by them when they experience discrimination. As far as addressing my own implicit bias, I recognize my white privilege and am working every day to better understand the impact of my words, my actions, and my ability to shape policy. Fighting for justice is incredibly humbling, and I am often reminded that I will be a lifelong student as I continue to learn about the history of racism and systemic oppression and their detrimental, lasting impacts on our society. As a school board member, my top priority will be serving as conduit for the students and community members who live in Red Clay District B to make sure that their voices are heard."

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "I ABSOLUTELY DO. I for one have experienced 20+ years of education under teachers and administrators and along with peers who have CLEAR implicit biases. I have experienced a great amount racism and discrimination within the RedClay school district, and reversing these practices and behaviors starts with holding individuals accountable for their actions. We need to EDUCATE all teachers, staff, and students on what ‘implicit bias’ is. Those who are uneducated about their actions cannot fix them. After classes are held, trainings must be implemented to teach staff members how to de-escalate or intervene in situation where they see implicit bias/racial discrimination occurring (either between students and staff or among students themselves). If anything, we have learned that silence in a racially in-just situation is just as deadly as holding a bias yourself. Another thing that I would push to implement would be an education reform. Students are NOT learning about Black History. They are receiving a white-washed education, which encourages a perpetuated misunderstanding and lack of empathy towards their fellow black and brown students. I have to educate myself EVERY day on the history of the black and brown communities and consistently take accountability for my actions. If I am acting or speaking with implicit bias, I must recognize it, and change that behavior. I have been corrected before in the past for unknowingly saying or doing things that didn’t promote social justice for all people, and I QUICKLY educated myself on how to better. This is what everyone must do. Instead of being embarrassed by your mistakes or past mindsets, be grateful that you live in a world where you can learn from them. It’s not enough to ‘not be racist’, but everyone must be actively ANTI-RACIST!"

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "I believe implicit biases impact students and staff. I believe all district employees should take the Harvard Implicit Attitude Test (IAT) and be required to discuss their results with the people they work with, their students, and their student's parents. They should also be required to read material on the 'isms' which exist in society and be mandated to attend trainings based on their IAT results. In regards to myself, I have spent my life and career learning about, teaching about, writing about, and addressing systematic injustice in the US. I try my hardest to be cognizant of my biases and not let them limit my interactions with others. Furthermore, I have spent the last 35 years of my life creating policies which eliminate discrimination and open up opportunities for those who have been historically and con-temporarily marginalized."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered

6. Describe how you would ensure quality education for a diverse student population: i.e. the gifted and talented, the “average” student, students with special educational needs, students with different abilities, English Language learners, low-income students and those with cultural differences.

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "This process starts with accountability and fidelity checks. I would love to say that all the systems in place already assure that each child is receiving a quality education however, we know that is not true. There is no easy fix. This will take a concerted effort. We need to ensure our educators are prepared and get continued professional development. Culturally relevant coursework and appropriate assessment tools. Access to rigorous coursework that is in alignment with emerging standards. Material translated in languages used by our students and families. Ensure that adequate resources are given to our students with most need. More community involvement."
  • Sarah Fulton: "Our schools teach using the inclusion model, which emphasizes an immersive experience for all our students. A key component to educating a diverse school community is making sure that we are adding opportunities for students who want them, not subtracting them for students that need more time or attention. Oftentimes, we talk about equity in terms of “leveling the playing field,” when in reality we should do our best to meet students where they are and equip them with the resources they need to get where they want to go. This means advocating for things like universal pre-K and other policies that will help give every child a chance to succeed, as much as it means advocating for more vocational and career pathways opportunities. It means making sure that from kindergarten to graduation, school practices are trauma-informed, evidence-based, and culturally competent every step of the way."

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "Every student needs something different from their educational experience in order to succeed. Whether it’s a teacher who caters to their learning style because they are a special education student, or an advanced placement curriculum to help enhance their college-based track, they ALL deserve to be invested in as a student and a PERSON on this earth. All to often, administration and teachers become comfortable by doing the bare minimum in their jobs which is completely UNNACCEPTABLE. School is a place where students go to grow, not only in intelligence, but socially. We must RE-DEFINE the purpose of teachers and administrators in a child’s life, and provide our schools with more resources to better help all students. This could include more curriculum choices to include vo-tech / advanced placement classes, more mental health counselors, etc. It all starts with investing in the children who are one day going to be the future educators and influencers of the world."

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "I have spent the last 12 years working with parents and community advocates to promote quality education for not only students in our district, but also for students all across our state. Here are a few examples: 
    1. I wrote the district resolution for smaller class sizes (Nov 2013); 
    2. I advocated for TAG programs in all of our schools (started in 2013); 
    3. I fought for more funding support (aka weighted funding formula) to provide equitable resources for all students, especially our special education students, students who speak a language that is not English as their birth language, low income students, students of color, etc. (started in 2013); 
    4. I Proposed the creation of a District Wide Diversity Committee and the committee was created in Jan of 2014;
    5. I Wrote the Opt-Out Resolution (March 2015); 
    6. I raised the issue of where we held our school board meetings in March of 2015 because Brandywine Springs was not on the Dart bus route and it was very hard for parents to get to the school if they did not own a car – as a direct result we changed school board meeting locations;
    7. I wrote the Full Time 'Specials' Teachers in All Schools Resolution in Oct 2015 which stipulated that all schools, including Title I schools, had full time art, physical education, music and library teachers; 
    8. I raised the issue of the racist mascot at Conrad to Superintendent Daugherty on multiple occasions starting in 2014 and the board voted to change the name in June of 2016; 
    9. I proposed students be placed on our school board as voting members (this was voted down) but the district created a Student Advisory Board in Oct 2016; 
    10. Starting in 2013 I demanded, loudly and persistently, at numerous board meetings that a much more inclusive curriculum be implemented and as a direct result of my advocacy in 2017 the district began to update reading lists; 
    11. I wrote the WEAC Resolution in April 2017; 
    12. I worked with Network DE and we wrote the Safe and Inclusive Schools Resolution which passed in September 2017; 
    13. I advocated for Wellness Centers in all of our schools including elementary schools and now we have Wellness Centers in all of our high schools and in at least one of our elementary schools; 
    14. I proposed the creation of an Equity Office in Red Clay in 2014 and after I conducted three years of research I helped Dr. Daugherty write the Equity Resolution, which passed in 20017 - we were the first district in the state to have an Equity Office as a direct result of the work I did on this issue; 
    15. I proposed to the district that they create a Black American Studies class and the district created this class last year (2019). 
    This is some of the work I have done in Red Clay to move our district forward and create a more equitable and quality infused learning and working environment for students, staff and parents."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered

7. Are there any other equity, racial justice, or funding goals not talked about above that you hope to accomplish in your term in office?

Red Clay Candidates - District B

  • Martin Wilson: Not yet answered
  • Lillian Oliver: "We can be the district that closes the opportunity gap. We should ensure students have the best access to opportunities for learning and exploration. We must show our students what’s possible."
  • Sarah Fulton: "I’m hopeful that this moment we’re in right now - one where more and more of us are saying Black Lives Matter and calling for systemic change - lasts. It’s incumbent on all of us to continue these conversations, to keep showing up for our community, and to demand transformational change. We should use this moment that we’re in and the momentum it has brought to analyze all of our schools’ policies: from reopening safely in the fall, to diversifying our curriculum, and to creating a pipeline of more Black and brown educators. While COVID-19 has brought about many new challenges, it has shined a light on many of the inequities that we always knew existed but swept under the rug. What's clearer than ever is that our schools do more than just educate students - they provide meals, a stable internet connection, access to technology, as well as critical mental health and wellness resources. As we navigate uncertainty regarding our upcoming school year, we must remain committed to serving all of the needs of our students, no matter where they live or what school they attend."

Red Clay Candidates - District G

  • Catherine H. Thompson: Not yet answered
  • Grace Otley: "I am a product of the Red Clay School District and KNOW there is work to be done. I am committed to changing the way we receive funding and the way our staff is treated our students. Every student deserves to be able to say that they wish they never had to leave elementary, middle, or high school because their experience was absolutely life-changing."

Red Clay Current Board Members

  • Adriana L. Bohm: "I believe I provided comprehensive responses to all of the questions asked. This survey took me multiple hours to complete! Thank you for asking thoughtful questions regarding the work required to move equity and social justice forward in Red Clay."
  • Jason P. Casper: Not yet answered
  • Jose Matthews: Not yet answered
  • Faith R. Newton: Not yet answered
  • Ashley E. Sabo: Not yet answered