With two adult sons who went through the Williamson County Schools system and a granddaughter currently enrolled in the pre-International Baccalaureate program at Franklin High School, Inetta Gaines’ family has seen the ups and downs of the district over the past 25 years.
Gaines, an African American who spoke at Monday night’s Williamson County Board of Education meeting, said her family has experienced racial incidences dating back to 1996, and that the time is nigh for the school district to implement a program or policy to address these matters beyond incidental enforcement at each flare-up.
“At this juncture, at this extremely important time, it’s beyond necessary to put sustainable action and funds to helping our community to address these racial incidences which continue to occur,” said Gaines, one of five citizens to speak before the board and district staff on the subject of racism and cultural diversity. “I’m asking that we please not miss this opportunity to a better understanding of how harmful these incidences are. …
“We can read all the self-help books, have professional development days, school assemblies, but until we have a professional who can help break down why these issues exist, and that person has the experience to somehow rectify them, we’re spinning our wheels.”
The district came close to possibly gaining traction on the matter when WCS Superintendent Jason Golden introduced the board to a consultant he was considering hiring to serve as a cultural specialist. Derek Young, a Nashville-based consultant, author and motivational speaker who owns Derek Young Speaks, attended the school board retreat last month and engaged with members there.
However, Golden and Young determined that handling the racial and equity situation at WCS is perhaps beyond the means of a single consultant.
“We came to the conclusion that we will likely need more resources than his small firm can supply,” Golden said, adding that he and Human Resources Director Vickie Hall will likely look at forming a team to address ongoing issues.
“Once we get a plan together, my vision is we’ll be finding the right folks over the course of time to grow us in this way,” Golden said at Monday’s meeting.
“This is important. It’s not something that we can let go, it’s not something that we shouldn’t talk about. It’s something that’s ripe for improvement. It needs to be in the forefront of our minds.”