A Massachusetts public school district is reportedly instructing students and teachers to anonymously report incidents of “conscious or unconscious bias” so that the school can carry out disciplinary action, Parents Defending Education, an advocacy group, reported Friday.
Wellesley Public Schools’ Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is reportedly encouraging students to report incidents of bias, which the school defines as “any biased conduct, speech or expression that has an impact but may not involve criminal action, but demonstrates conscious or unconscious bias that targets individuals or groups that are part of a federally protected class (ie. race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, or disability).”
Bias-based behavior also includes incidents where someone treats another person differently because they are a part of a protected group, according to Parents Defending Education.
Examples of bias-based behavior include using a slur toward a student based on their membership in a protected group, telling a rude joke that mocks someone on this basis or disciplining a student more harshly on this basis.
After the report is made, the school will discipline the person responsible and give “remedial or supportive actions” to those impacted by the bias incident. The school will also pursue “corrective action or education steps” for the individual or potentially the entire school community, according to the document posted by Parents Defending Education.
The families of those involved in the incident will also be notified, and witnesses will be interviewed by a school official to determine if a violation of school policy occurred.
Students who violate the anti-discrimination policy can face detention, suspension or other “restorative responses that require them to acknowledge their responsibility and minimize its impact.”
Staff members who violate the policy would be subject to “a process of formal warnings and reprimands, suspension, or more serious consequences.” Community members who violate the policy could be banned from the school.
Parents Defending Education reports that all faculty and staff at the school are also required to participate in equity training and pass a test based off of the instruction.
Slides from the alleged training define “bias-based incident,” “microaggressions,” and lists examples of “microaggressions in the classroom.”
Among the examples are “continuing to mispronounce” students’ names, referring to the coronavirus as the “China Virus,” or scheduling tests or projects on cultural holidays.
Wellesley Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
In May, Parents Defending Education announced that it had filed a civil rights complaint against Wellesley Public Schools after the school allegedly segregated students by race during a “healing space” activity for “Asian and Asian American students,” which also included Black, Indigenious, People of Color (BIPOC) students in grades 6-12. (RELATED: Public School District Allegedly Segregating Students By Race Faces Civil Rights Complaint From Parents Group)
“If you identify as White, and need help to process recent events, please know I’m here for you as well as your guidance counselors,” an email from a school official about the event said, according to Parents Defending Education. “If you need to know more about why this is not for White students, please ask me!”
Wellesley Public Schools said in a statement after the report that the “affinity space” for certain minority students was not intended to “prohibit anyone else from attending.”
“In an effort to further define this district invitation to an individual class of students in a developmentally appropriate manner, one of our teachers noted that this particular space was not designed for students who identify as white,” the statement said.