Calls for a third party racial equity study of the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) continued this week with three letters to the Sun Prairie School Board that were read during the board’s March 15 meeting.
Two of the letters mentioned a Feb. 18 letter sent to board members by Dan Hawk calling for a review board consisting of a representative sample of community members, students, parents and staff from all levels so the “the community [is] a partner in determining the breadth and depth of the audit.”
Staci Uebersetzig (pronounced EE-ber-set-zig) in her letter referred to an email sent March 11 by SPASD Superintendent Brad Saron (read all the public comments with the online version of this article at sunprairiestar.com).
“When there is an issue of trust,” Uebersetzig wrote, “the community may seen what is written [by Saron] and worry that you are contacting potential equity assessors without an advisory committee of community members to work alongside you and the AAPN [African American Parent Network] to help guide and oversee the process. I urge you to follow the request to set up that representative review board before any further work on an assessment/audit takes place.
“If there are any issues with creating that committee,” Uebersetzig added, “then I urge you to let us all know what those issues are. We can only begin to rebuild trust if we can keep the chain of communication going and be open to feedback.”
Tracy Frank repeated the third party equity assessment request.
“I think it is easy to understand that there is some mistrust in our community and I think that some of that trust could be regained we truly work together as a community to look at all the data in a collective and transparent way,” Frank added. “This can also help the district set goals, adjust practices and policies and determine the future together. This is truly the work of both the school board, the district staff at all levels and the wider community. It is past time to set a new strategic framework for SPASD.”
Frank also referred to Hawk’s letter in calling for a third party review.
“If we can do the hard work of looking at the teachers responsible for the Feb. 1 incident with integrity and transparency,” Frank added, “then we can do the same with a third party internal review. If we can put thousands of dollars and hours into school space planning, bullying and boundary task forces, etc., then we can do the same with an equity audit. It’s time to dig deep into this work.”
Deb and Curt Pederson also questioned Saron’s March 11 email, which preceded a story in the Sun Prairie Star on March 12 about calls made at the March 8 Sun Prairie School Board meeting for a third party equity assessment.
“Unfortunately,” the Pedersons wrote, “we’re beyond simple email communications at this point.”
The Pedersons wrote in their email that there is a “trust issue” which can only be resolved with community involvement.
“For the community to fully understand the effectiveness of these efforts,” the Pedersons added, “we need to see the metrics demonstrating which efforts work and which do not work. These metrics need to be publicly accessible.
“Without these metrics,” the Pedersons asked, “how can the community trust the effort is working as intended?”
The Pedersons also pointed out the March 11 email from Saron failed to mention community involvement despite an external auditor being sought by SPASD.
“Since this is a community issue,” the Pedersons added, “we fully expect members of the community in addition to AAPN, to be heavily involved in the audit from start to finish. What is the plan for involving the extended community?”
The board made no comments on the public comment and moved on with its March 15 agenda.