The Santa Barbara Unified Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a Board Resolution in support of Black student leaders who presented the district with a series of demands aimed at calling out and combating institutional racism and its effects on the lives of Black families and students.
The Board also voted to fully endorse an Action Plan which outlines concrete ways that the district will respond to the specific concerns brought forward through the demands.
As leaders of the district, we are invigorated by the adoption of this resolution and approval of the action plan.
As further testament to the district’s commitment to responding to racial strife and need for cultural proficiency, the Board also voted to approve the content of two new Ethnic Studies courses to be launched this fall – helping to satisfy the district’s new mandatory high school graduation requirement for the class of 2024. So far, 1,100 students have enrolled in Ethnic Studies courses for the Fall.
School board member Kate Ford worked with her board colleague Wendy Sims-Moten, community and student leaders and district staff in developing the resolution.
“The overall lesson that we learned over these past few weeks is that it is important that we listen and learn, and I hope that whoever reads this resolution will see that we are listening and we are learning,” Ford said.
Dr. Frann Wageneck, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, said as we continue to listen and learn, we need to also focus on action and change. “As we stated to students who presented the demands to us at the district office [during the June 7 Black Lives Matter student protest] it’s important to watch our actions and make sure they back up our words. Regular reports on our progress will be essential.”
More than 60 people spoke during public comment, including Black Student Youth SB (BSYSB) member Talia Hamilton, one of the students who presented the demands to district leaders. Hamilton said she was pleased with the resolution and action plan, and looked forward to continued collaboration with the district.
“I think it’s great how much support we have been getting,” Hamilton told district leaders. “We can’t do much without you guys. We are very thankful for you. I’m excited to see where this goes. We need to teach our youth that there is no room for racism. It’s not one and done. This will be a process.”
Last week, the district’s English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) delivered a Statement of Solidarity in support of the student demands and the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the committee acknowledged the “deep roots of racism, colorism and anti-blackness that exist within our Latinx community.”
María Larios-Horton, Director of English Learner and Family Engagement, added “Our District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) has consistently worked to address issues of inequality for institutionally underserved students. As a result, their core values drove them to want to engage with the student leaders of the Black Student YouthSB and subsequently develop their statement of support – with an honest commitment to act in good will on that statement.”
Marina Zarate, Co-President of the DELAC committee, said members expressed their full support for the Black Lives Matter movement against racism and anti-blackness.
“After speaking with the leaders of this student-led movement, we further understood the unfair situations they have experienced their entire lives,” Zarate said. “As a result, DELAC decided to share its statement in support of the demands of these students who had the courage to raise their voices to ask for what is right.”
Board member Sims-Moten, who was invited to attend the DELAC meeting, said she was touched by the statement, and grateful to the committee’s work and show of solidarity.
“It took a pandemic to raise the level of awareness around the injustices that have been there day in and day out within the African American community,” Sims-Moten said. “We can no longer have our students feel invisible or unworthy. It’s important to have allies beside us, even if you are not being impacted. We are all human. To see this swell of support really warms my heart.”