ECAC Meeting Minutes – Monday, March 11

Introductions of members present

Diversity/Equity Updates

Update on hiring process for Diversity/Equity Coordinator position

  • Dr. Tangorra: have not advertised for the position, but have interviewed 7 or 8 people by word of mouth.
  • 4 “buckets”: HR, BOE Policy Committee, Professional Development, Student and family engagement
  • By end of April, would like to have 4 or 5 people to go through the District Interview process, with goal of appointment by the May BOE meeting, for a July 1 start
  • Contracted with “Heart and Hands” as a stop-gap measure to get us through the end of the year (for work with students)

Review of continuation of diversity/equity work

  • Dr. Jones: Multi-Cultural Fair recap, 18 countries represented. Kudos to Samita for putting it together. Recognition to Dara for hosting a booth.
  • 10-15 Niskayuna students will be going to Schenectady HS to shadow. The reverse will occur later that week. Time to debrief will be included in these days.
  • Student Congress not established yet
  • “Heart and Hands” will begin with office hours this week
  • Samita: thank you for the support, didn’t get any negative feedback, even from peers. Everyone said “let’s do it!”
  • Question: what is the plan for the student exchange? Still working it through. There will be a faculty member attending with them.
  • “Hope for Change” week at the end of March. Several student members of the ECAC will be part of the exchange.

Progress on Diversity/Equity Plan

  • Dr. Jones shares the background regarding the development of the Action Plan
  • Dr. Tangorra: Communications Office has developed a script for a video, based on what Shen uses. Identifying your own bias prior to interview/hiring process. Video will be used each time staff members participate in the process. Also considering how to “cast a broader net” to reach candidates and support and retain new hires once they come on board.
  • Ms. Gemmill: Leadership Team reading articles about hiring bias, so they can lead the teams in their buildings. Looking at educator prep programs and bringing students into the profession.
  • Question: Are you putting on a scenario regarding bias? Not in the video. But with the Leadership Team, that may be done with faculties and staffs/
  • Question: What are the typical ways to post for a position? OLAS, NYSCOSS, NYSSBA, SANNYS, NYSSMA, sometimes local newspapers. Need to figure out what tools are at our disposal that we haven’t used. Look to colleges and universities that offer “hard to fill” programs.
  • Tammy: Synagogue hosting an event on Diversity: Bridging the Divide. 3 presenters: CDO from Geneseo. “Bridging the Divide,” 10:30 a.m. Agudat Achim Synagogue, 2117 Union St., Schenectady. Free. Presenters Beth Martinez, Robbie Routenberg, Kathlean McLean to discuss respectful interactions.
  • Question: Is student input ever considered in hiring teachers? Students sit on the “Community” sub-committees for administrative positions
  • Question: Are there any advocacy groups where minority teachers can register? Not that we know of.
  • Question: Is training going to be provided “in house” or from outside consultants? Currently it is Generation Ready. Will be supplemented by the Chief Diversity Officer when that person is on board.
  • Question: Will there be a hiring incentive? Searching for strategic partners who can help with this. Can we support Teaching Assistants who might be great teachers? How do we bring students into the profession?
  • Question: Are there professional organizations, like there are for lawyers? Yes, but they tend to be in larger urban areas.
  • Commentary regarding how difficult it is to be the “only”: as a new teacher, possibly without a mentor, serving as a mentor for so many students who appreciate seeing someone like themselves
  • Establishing a network
    • Looking for ideas
    • Social networking
    • Clergy groups
    • Student suggested speakers
    • Suggestion box
    • Mentoring program for students
  • Question: is there any formal mentoring program? Yes, piloting at NHS right now, in its first year. Discussion of other student mentoring programs (St. Kateri, other private schools). Wrap-around vs. nebulous/once a week. Importance of students seeing role models from various pathways. Variations in how we might define “mentoring” and what we want to gain from “establishing a network of K-12 mentors of various ethnicities.”
  • Expose students to various professions throughout elementary school (Multiple Pathways sub-committee of IPAC working on this.)
  • Promote HS students working together in a classroom.
  • Question: Can members of the BOE help with this network?
  • Suggestion: Reach out to the Air National Guard/diverse group, right in our own community
  • Suggestion: Creation of Affinity Groups with Business Organizations within the Niskayuna Community
  • Suggestion: Be sure that the new Chief Diversity Officer is circulated as someone who can take confidential complaints/concerns
  • Professional Development
    • Generation Ready/Equity Walks
    • Superintendent’s Conference Day Sessions
  • Understanding Data
    • Graduation Rates
    • Grade 8 ELA/Math
    • Guiding questions
    • What do you notice?
    • What questions should we be asking about enrollment in advanced courses? Internships? Support programs?
    • What paths do students take that are not measured here?
    • What information should we be collecting and studying?
  • Every Student Succeeds Act implementation in NYS
    • multiple measures of success
    • 10 different student subgroups for accountability
    • Will have the ability to “drill down” and get information regarding the students currently sitting in front of us
  • Question: Does the District do any surveying of graduates? It has been inconsistent, but the IPAC has a sub-committee working on this?
  • Question (Addressed to Alyssa): Are there surprises from the data that is collected from the tests? No, but there are inherent flaws with the test.

Sub-Committee Reports and Needs

Mental Health and Wellness

  • Recommendation to NHS to provide some mental health awareness to students and parents.
  • Two events have now had a “Mental Health 101” component added.
  • Recommendation towards pushing Advanced Math to later grades.
  • Next steps: Discussions on how to address the various issues driving student anxiety.


  • Primary focus to define and execute an Affinity Program for families of color.
  • Event on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Rosendale.


  • Suggestion that the Events sub-committee might be working at cross-purposes with the other sub-committees and needs to have its purpose redefined.
  • Need to merge email lists gathered from the Diversity and Desserts events

Book Recommendations

  • White Fragility – Robin Diangelo
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? – Beverly Daniel Tatum

Next meeting: June 4