Concord and Bow school districts partner to find diversity, equity, inclusion and justice director

  • Concord School District Building Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 9/8/2022 4:48:16 PM

Through a partnership between the Concord and Bow school districts, administrators hope to attract a full-time Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Director to begin working this year.

Concord had been seeking to hire a part-time coordinator to run cultural competence initiatives throughout the district since the spring. Through the partnership, the two districts can offer better salary and benefits to the successful full-time candidate.

Concord School District Superintendent Kathleen Murphy said hiring a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) Director is the next step in the district’s diversity work, which has included staff trainings for most employees. The full-time director will be an “integral member” of the leadership team, according to the job description, responsible for defining, assessing and promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and justice and for running DEI initiatives around curriculum and professional development. School DEI coordinators’ scope typically encompasses work around race and ethnicity, but also gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and socioeconomic status.

“We’re trying to meet the needs of our students,” Murphy said Thursday. “That person would be someone who would work with our students around any of their concerns as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Concord’s initial job posting in the spring didn’t garner many candidates. When Bow administrators suggested partnering to share the position and its cost, Concord administrators agreed. Concord re-posted the position in August as a full-time position, with a salary range of $90,000-95,0000. The plan is for the director to spend three days a week in Concord and two days a week in Bow. 

“The thinking was that Bow has some needs and we have some needs, and we would share an employee,” Murphy said. “This position is new for both of us, so we’re hoping that the work they’ll do with students will be of benefit to the district, and to families and connecting with the community as well.”

Bow and Dunbarton Superintendent Dean Cascadden calls the collaboration with Concord “synergistic.” Cascadden wanted to bring a DEIJ director to Bow to work with students, but says his school district didn’t have the funds to hire a full-time person alone. 

Currently, Bow High School assistant principal Matt Fisk, who leads the SAU67 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, has been running programs in addition to assistant principal duties, Cascadden said, and the district hopes to bring in someone to focus solely on DEI initiatives.

“We thought a person with more boots-on-the-ground would be able to do more activities with students and offer more direct services, going into classrooms, talking about issues like how we can be more inclusive, running student groups and getting that sort of thing going,” Cascadden said Thursday.

Concord School District, which had a student population that is 20% non-white, is among the most diverse school districts in the state. Bow and Dunbarton have less racial diversity – Bow School District is 90% white and Dunbarton School District is more than 90% white, according to N.H. Department of Education demographic data. Cascadden says that’s why he wants to focus on education.

“People just don’t know sometimes, the things they say that are insensitive. They don’t realize how they’re acting might come off as offensive,” Cascadden said. “We’re looking for a person to come in and just do some education on ways we can fulfill our mission.”

Bow currently uses the National SEED Project’s “mirrors and windows” analogy for approaching diversity, thinking of a mirror as a story that reflects one’s own culture and a window as a view into someone else’s experience.

Other school districts around the state have hired DEI administrators in the last several years. Exeter Region Cooperative School District hired a DEIJ Director and the Manchester School District hired a Chief Equity Officer at the start of the 2021 school year. Oyster River’s DEIJ coordinator started this summer. The Lebanon School District currently has a job posting seeking a Director of Equity, Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.

“We want all students to be able to see themselves in our mission,” Cascadden said. “How can we make sure that you feel comfortable – whoever you are – in our schools, and you see yourself as belonging, and how can we help raise understanding of other people so they feel comfortable here too.”

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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