2022 DEI Transparency Report

Click here to download the full report: 2022 APS DEI Transparency Report

2022 Arlington Public School DEI Transparency Report

Impact of 2021-2022 School Year

Curated by Dr. Jason Ottley
Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Arlington Public Schools
August 2022

Welcome from Dr. Ottley
Dr. Ottley’s Message to the APS Community

One of the highest priorities at Arlington Public Schools (APS) is to be a place where all our teachers, staff, students, parents, and caregivers feel valued and safe. As the second ever Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO), it has been my priority to help APS grow as a district that already leads in developing a just, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming school community where everyone feels they belong. Arlington Public Schools has granted me an incredible opportunity to advance its DEI efforts during this critical juncture and context of our society.

As a committed agent of change, I came to this CDEIO position with experience in the K-12 and postsecondary levels. I obtained my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from West Virginia University, where I worked for the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In that role, I traveled with President Gordon E. Gee to visit all 55 counties in West Virginia to address equity, inclusion, unemployment, opioid abuse, and the state’s declining health scores. West Virginia had the lowest percentage of residents with college degrees (15% in 2013), so we created programs for low income and first-generation students. Outside of my professional duties at the university, I created Bond Educational Group to assist corporations hire, recruit, and retain historically marginalized communities. Most recently, I served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the education department at California University of Pennsylvania and a tenure track professor in the educational leadership department at Kennesaw State University.

While I bring these experiences with me to the CDEIO role, working with the APS community to address its unique challenges, find common understandings, and produce solutions has been the priority, especially in the context of COVID and a social justice reckoning this country is going through. I have met with and heard from students, teachers, staff, parents, APS leadership, and community members on their experiences and concerns. During this past year, school and division-wide DEI efforts have been designed and implemented to help shape a healthy and inclusive culture where our students can grow and thrive. We have launched new initiatives and training opportunities; created policy implementation plans; rolled-out school division wide campaigns; and supported student activities. However, the work is just getting started.

This transparency report serves as an opportunity to pause and share updates on the progress that has been made while communicating the priorities of the future. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should not exist in only my office — these principles must be foundational in the entire school community. By working together, our impact is greater, and our office is looking forward to the continued collaboration.

Jason Ottley, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in school systems
There is a growing body of evidence and reports that show the increase in diversity among the K-12public school population. With this diversity of the student body, there is an interest in ensuring that students, families, and communities of diverse backgrounds are well-supported by their schools. In November 2021, Hanover Research released a report about the current state of DEI in public schools. This report, titled “The Current State of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Public Schools” draws on the data collected from over 75,500 individuals across 45 U.S. school districts from November 2020 to July 2021. Key findings from this national report1 include:

  • Only 41% of staff agree or strongly agree that resources are equally distributed across all school districts.
  • Only 54% of respondents shared that teachers in their child’s or district schools are engaging students in meaningful conversations about diversity.
  • Only 46% of the respondents who identify/whose child identifies as non-binary agree or strongly agree that their school supports students, families, or staff of all gender identities.

Given these gaps, K-12 school districts are starting to incorporate Chief Diversity Officers (CDO). This CDO position is the highest-ranking diversity administration in school districts and their role is dependent on institutional history, context, and resources. CDOs are more prevalent in large school districts (districts with more than 100,000 students) but rural districts are seeing these roles being created as well.2 CDOs typically lead diversity offices; plan for diversity initiatives; champion the implementation of culturally responsive curriculum and training; and provide direction for committees, faculty, staff, and students.3 These CDOs can help mobilize and strengthen efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion space and be a champion for change.2

COVID-19 Context

In 2020, the world experienced a pandemic that touched all parts of everyone’s lives. Coronavirus, better known as COVID-19, cause communities and families to shelter in place and school and worked was either halted or moved to online. This had significant negative impacts on mental health, including youth. In 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students reported they experienced poor mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 44% reported they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.4 More than a quarter (29%) reported a parent or other adult in their home lost a job.4 This had negative impacts on families and students, especially those of racial and ethnic minority backgrounds.

History of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in APS

1984 is when the diversity, equity, and inclusion program started. When it was launched, it was a program for Black kindergarten students; they stayed the full day while White students stayed half of the day. During this extra time in the classroom, Black students developed some of the reading, literacy, and math skills they lacked in comparison to the White students. In the 1990s, the Office of Minority Achievement was created, and in the 2000s, that office was rebranded to be the Office of Equity and Excellence. Ms. Carolyn Jackson served as the most recent Supervisor for the Office of Equity and Excellence. Finally, in 2019, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was created and the first Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Mr. Arron Gregory, was hired. In August 2020, Arlington Public Schools adopted its first equity policy (A-30). In January 2021, the Office of Equity and Excellence merged under the leadership of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In August 2021, Dr. Jason Ottley was hired as the second Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer.

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