DPI orders Burlington Area School District employees to undergo anti-racism training

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BURLINGTON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) ordered the Burlington Area School District (BASD) to undergo non-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-racism policy training.

This order comes as DPI concluded that the district failed to follow the requirements of its own discrimination policy, according to a decision issued on Friday, Aug. 26.

"As such, DPI orders an addendum to the ongoing (corrective action plan) which provides specifically for training of district staff on Policies 2260 and 5517 and training for the District's (compliant officers) regarding the proper steps to an investigation under those policies," said the document signed by Deputy State Superintendent John W. Johnson.

BASD has two policies related to preventing discrimination, including 2260 Nondiscrimination and Access to Equal Educational Opportunity and 5517 Student Anti-Harassment/Anti-Racism, according to DPI's decision.

In a statement, BASD said all employees participated in mandatory training of these two policies on Monday, Aug. 29. A spokesperson told CBS 58, this district-wide training had been planned for months.

"This is part of the district's ongoing efforts to address racism and ensure that every student has a sense of belonging," BASD said in a statement.

The BASD statement went on to say they seek to be diligent about following requirements of all polices, and they reject all forms of discrimination.

The Burlington Coalition for Dismantling Racism (BCDR) called DPI's decision a win for the community.

"I'm hopeful that it will redirect (the district's) focus, and get them to listen to the members of color from the community and listen to the students that are still crying out for their attention," BCDR President Laura Bielefeldt said.

Although this investigation focused on one incident of Burlington High School football players allegedly calling Westosha High School players racial slurs on the field, Bielefeldt told CBS 58 this isn't a standalone issue.

"That's something that's been going on in the district since I went to school here and probably before that. The district has received complaints for at least the past three years and nothing's been done," Bielefeldt said.

Bielefeldt said she serves as the only person of color on the district's Community Equity Team, as ordered by DPI.

She said the rest of the team is not receptive to a lot of the changes she believes need to be made.

"Unfortunately, with Burlington, there's a lot of members in our administration that are just comfortable sweeping everything under the wet rug," Bielefeldt said.

The Central High School District of Westosha told CBS 58 they did not have a comment. The schools' football teams are scheduled to play against each other on Sept. 9.

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