Dubuque School District hires equity director, will identify areas of improvement in schools

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- The Dubuque School District has created a new position of equity director. That person will help the district determine areas of improvement in its schools.

Kids work in a financial literacy course at Dubuque Senior High School on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. (ALLISON WONG/KCRG)

One DCSD parent believes this is a step in the right direction. Christine Darr, a mother of two, believes the district has work to do on improving equity.

"I think that the changes that need to be made in the district in order to build more equity, need to happen at the district level, not at the building level. So having someone in that kind of position I think is really valuable," she said.

One of Darr's biggest concerns is the inequity in Dubuque's Title 1 schools. Those schools receive federal funding and have high numbers of kids on free and reduced lunches.

Darr said, "we have a lot of kids with a lot of significant emotional needs, trauma, things like that, that when they're all put into one classroom, it's really difficult for any of them to do well."

The District's incoming Equity Director Taj Suleyman says his first step will be getting to know the schools and students to eventually identify areas of improvement, which could include Darr's concern.

"I don't want us to only look at the data by itself, but I think I want us to be able to see how the students and how the parents of the students are a part of this," Suleyman said of his approach.

Superintendent Stan Rheingans says the district left the job description open so Suleyman is free to make his assessments.

He said, "help us learn about yourselves, just really get to know us and then we'll have a lot of conversations around what are some things that we are doing really well, what are some things that can be improved upon, and what are some things we can start doing."

Darr is optimistic.

"I'm encouraged. I think that the person they chose is going to be great," she said.

Suleyman is currently the Equity Outreach Coordinator for the City of Dubuque. His first day as DCSD Equity Director is April 29th.