Since 2017, La Salle has enrolled three cohorts of administrators, faculty, and staff in a one-year certificate program in equity leadership with our partners at the Center for Equity and Inclusion, a consulting agency focused on advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts within organizations, education systems, and communities.
By July 2020, La Salle had 13 CEI certified equity leaders on the school’s Equity Team. La Salle’s leadership team also provided, for three consecutive years, professional development in equity issues to all of La Salle’s faculty and staff.
La Salle also explored, as a community, the following themes over three years:
- Understanding Identity (2017-18)
- Building Empathy (2018-19)
- Engaging in Dialogue (2019-20)
- Foundations in Cultural Effectiveness (2020-21)
- Developing Self-awareness (2021-22)
These community explorations included:
- Classroom discussions of equity
- Assemblies where students and staffers shared personal stories and experiences related to racial and gender injustice
- Support of students launching affinity organizations such as the Black Student Union, the Asian Pacific Islander Club, Middle Eastern Student Union, Unidos for Latinx students, and the Pride Alliance
- Parent Equity meetings where family members shared stories, offered perspectives, and contributed to initiatives aimed at improving equitable outcomes for La Salle’s students of color
- New hire practices, with the goal of hiring for diversity, include expanding recruitment targets to attract a diverse applicant pool, reviewing job descriptions prior to posting to ensure equitable qualifications are stated, revising interview questions to reflect diversity in the workforce and a neutral review of applicant qualifications following a posting
La Salle also took these steps to fortify its staff to make it more inclusive and supportive of students of color:
- The addition, in 2019, of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Support position to the staff to build community with students and serve as a support and advocate for students of color
- The addition, in 2020, of a new Director of Equity and Inclusion position to the staff to increase La Salle Prep’s diversity, support students of color, expand our community’s cultural competency, promote academic excellence, and prepare all students to engage equitably in an increasingly complex and global community.
'Make justice your aim'
In an open letter to the La Salle community, President/principal Andrew Kuffner urges all Lasallians to come together to stop the spread of racism
June 1, 2020
Dear La Salle Community,
“Learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
Our country is openly wounded and hurting. Institutional, systemic, and generational racism and disparities are visible, profound, and deeply impactful. We have constant reminders like this past week when we witnessed another black life taken - George Floyd - this time under the knee of a white police officer. Recent stories like those of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery compound the impact. These tragedies are not isolated. But they are indicative and they call us to action - to disrupt, dismantle, and neutralize racism and oppression. We raise the voice of our mission and the voices of those silenced and marginalized in a clear and comprehensive chorus to unequivocally state: Racism is an evil cancer and we must come together to stop its spread and treat what it has infected.
St John Baptist De La Salle opened his first school in France during a time of deep institutional disparity, systemic inequity, generational poverty, conflict, and suffering. He was led by God’s providence to address the need in front of him through the academic, social, and spiritual education of young people regardless of their circumstances. We inherit this mission and continue to reanimate it in our students today.
Many students entrusted to our care are hurting, angry, and afraid. In Lasallian education, we often say that students learn most powerfully by our example. Our students are watching and learning and integrating their experiences both inside and outside of the classroom. The banners hanging in our main hall outline what we aspire to, but can only be living ideals when accompanied by actions and behaviors. We are called to provide a relevant and meaningful education in order to cultivate the conditions necessary to illuminate the inherent dignity, value, and goodness of each student.
Our schoolwide diversity, equity, and inclusion work is ongoing. And in response to the current local and national situation, our faculty and staff equity team will be inviting students to participate in dialogue, critical thinking, praying, listening, sharing and reflecting as a way to support them as they process what they are witnessing and feeling. Details on this opportunity will be posted to Schoology; any student is welcome to participate.
We wish we could be physically together at this time, joining hand in hand and wrapping each other in an embrace that supports and lifts each other up. While this is not possible with social distancing expectations, we can still come together with our voices and our prayers to affirm our mission as a Lasallian family. We want all of our students - and right now, especially our black students - to know and feel the love and support of this community. This is an essential step in opening a window for healing, and a critical foundation that will carry all of us forward.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts,