Burlington schools submit corrective action plan without parent input following racism allegations

NOW: Burlington schools submit corrective action plan without parent input following racism allegations

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Burlington area schools now have a corrective action plan as they admit there's a problem with racism in the district. But does that plan go far enough?

In their statement, Burlington area schools say they yearn to understand why people of color have negative experiences there. They say they're striving for an inclusive environment.

Burlington Area School Board members hope to put parents' minds at ease with a 31-page document, saying they're serious about solving the racial divide. 

"We hope we can all agree the work ahead has the potential to not only improve the culture within Burlington, but also to bring justice to Black and Brown students across the state,” said  Peter Turke, Burlington Area School Board president. 

But parents have a hard time believing that.

"First of all, I don’t think there will be action behind it because my daughter has been told numerous times, 'Oh it’s just a word, get over it. Oh, just ignore them,'" said a mom of an eighth-grader who wishes to remain anonymous.

Darnisha Garbade, with the Burlington Coalition for Dismantling Racism said, “When you look at the plan, it looks like the district is essentially just checking off boxes. You know, we need to educate staff -- check, but I said the biggest piece I think that’s missing is actually doing these things through the lens of people of color who are being impacted by this."

Parents whose children say they've experienced racism had hoped people of color would've been included in the plan's design, either through meetings, memos or a survey. 

Even Monday night, the public wasn't allowed to speak. Written comments are attached to the board's packet. 

“The meeting’s closed off. Nobody can say anything. So once again, we’re not being heard. They don’t want to hear us,” said one mom.

In a statement, the superintendent told us, “While we await further direction and approval of the plan by DPI, we remain steadfast in pursuit of a school environment that is free from racism so that every student can have a sense of belonging.”

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction originally ordered Burlington to come up with a plan after deeming it a racially hostile environment. 

Burlington has submitted the plan and is waiting to hear back from DPI.

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