Administrators within the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) are calling on students to report — anonymously — any acts of bias, discrimination, harassment, or intimidation motivated by prejudice.
LCPS spokesman Wayde Byard told The Virginia Star Wednesday that students may use what they call the Share, Speak Up, Speak Out: Bias Reporting Form to report instances of prejudice or bias.
“Such incidents are usually associated with negative feelings and beliefs about another’s race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, political affiliation, or disability,” Byard said in an email.
Loudoun County parent Karlee Copeland, told The Star this anonymous method has her worried.
“It’s subjective, of course. It’s someone’s anecdotal experience. The kids can go into this tool and report what happened. They can provide the name of the person that they are accusing, and they can choose to not provide their own name. What could go wrong, right? I envision a group of people who maybe want to target an individual child, and they falsely report incidents. They don’t have to be held accountable at all for reporting false information,” Copeland said.
“In reality, children should feel empowered to go and speak to leadership, their counselor, their dean, whomever they feel like they can trust and, then, if they really feel something bad has happened to them they need to report that directly to someone. I see nothing good happening with an anonymous reporting tool. And with kids constantly worrying someone is reporting on them.”
Byard said no disciplinary consequences are associated with this form.
“Students are not required to give the name of the person involved in the incident,” Byard said.
Byard said the school system’s Office of Equity will collect the information and use it to drive conversations in upcoming Student Equity Ambassador Share, Speak Up, and Speak Out sessions. Office staff will also use the information for professional development purposes. He also said “there is no guilt or punishment associated with this process” and that the form is optional.
Students, however, may use the forms to ask school administrators to investigate alleged acts of prejudice.
“Since the school administration continues to serve as the point of contact for incidents to be investigated, there is a place on the form for students to denote if they wish to have the incident followed up at their respective school,” Byard said.
Byard said the idea for these forms came about as part of the school system’s Action Plan to Combat Systemic Racism.
“The plan originated as the (then) superintendent and cabinet’s response to the School Board on what LCPS was committing to do regarding heightened racism across the country,” Byard said.
“Action steps were shared with the public and LCPS community over a period of months from June to October 2020. This process was shared in detail during an October 2020 School Board meeting. The specific reason behind this action step is to utilize it as a means to amplify and elevate student voice.”
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