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RPS Racial Equity Advisory Team disbands

Alice Keefe
Created: February 13, 2020 05:50 PM

(ABC 6 News) - At a Rochester School Board meeting earlier this month, the Racial Equity Advisory Team (REAT) announced it was disbanding.

The committee formed a few years ago, after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found disparities in discipline rates between white students and students of color, with the goal of putting equity for all students front and center.

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“It started out we had 40, 50 people, parents, teachers, staff members, community members without kids in the district who were passionate about this and wanting to try to do something about it,” said former REAT member, Carl Eric-Gentes.

“They had a charge statement to help engage stakeholders in topics of race and racism in our district,” said Deborah Seelinger, Rochester School Board Chair.

After three years of working for equity, the team decided to call it quits.

“For three years we had diminishing participation. We became whiter and whiter as time progressed,” Gentes said.

Seelinger said the committee made meaningful contributions over the years.

“They actually did a lot of good work, and so I don’t want people to forget that they were really instrumental in crafting a staff survey about the professional development that we offer on equity training in our district,” Seelinger said, crediting the team for leading community conversations on racism and contributing to a new student handbook.

“They certainly are passionate people, and we were so grateful for their feedback, but we know that the work does not stop. We know that they will go out and work in the community on efforts that they see in places that they see that they can make a difference, and then the district for its part will continue our efforts,” Seelinger said.

In a statement, the district in part thanked the committee members for their hard work and said in part, “The district is continuing extensive work in the area of equity,” citing several positions that have been created over the past few years in addition to new training and programs. 

At a meeting on February 18, the board will discuss discipline numbers across the district for the first semester.


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