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Report: ‘Lack of trust’ in Aurora school district leaders priortizing DEI

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(The Center Square) – Colorado’s Aurora Public Schools is not clear in its goals on how to implement diversity, equity and inclusion strategies and there is a “lack of trust” that district leadership is prioritizing DEI, according to a report.

The document was included in the agenda for the April 2 Board of Education work session and lists Jaelyn Coates, executive director of DEI for the district, as the presenter.

The Center Square reported earlier this month that Aurora Public Schools published a document that said the district will not implement any program that doesn’t prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion.

Staff and students said there was a “hyper focus” on race and ethnicity during discussions about DEI at the exclusion of “marginalized identities.”

“APS is lacking a common mission, purpose and value set to ground DEI work,” the document states. “There is a general lack of trust that leaders in this organization prioritize DEI in their respective roles.”

The report stated that “APS must foster a culture of accountability and follow through around DEI work.” The report adds: “District expectations for staff are not centered on DEI and cultural competence, so it is not prioritized at the school level.”

The report states that the district is lacking diversity in staffing.

According to Colorado Department of Education, 983 of the district’s 1161 teachers were white, or 85%. By comparison, 52% of the residents of the city of Aurora are white, according to the U.S. Census data.

“At present, staff identities do not reflect the communities they serve,” the report stated.

The report added that the district should review hiring practices and provide workshops that focus on DEI.

The district did not immediately respond to an email asking about future costs of implementing DEI strategies.

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