Racial equity auditors speak to Paducah board

Gregory Vincent (left) and Sarah LaCour — both of the University of Kentucky College of Education — speak to the Paducah school board via Zoom Monday about their ongoing racial equity audit of the school district. Board members watching on another screen are (from left) Dr. Felix Akojie, Dr. Carl LeBuhn and Janice Howard.

Gregory Vincent and Sarah LaCour — both of the University of Kentucky College of Education — spoke at the Paducah Independent School District Board meeting Monday via Zoom about the district’s racial equity audit, which is part of Phase 1 of the district’s Racial Equity Initiative, a plan devised by the district board in 2019 but delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and enacted earlier in the last school year.

Vincent previously served as vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin, while LaCour is the assistant director of the college’s Education and Civil Rights Initiative.

An Equity Action Committee of 18 members and an ex officio member has been formed and has played a part in the equity audit.

“We are now in the middle of the auditing process,” said Assistant Superintendent Will Black. “We are really excited about this process.

“We know we have persistent achievement gaps along racial lines, and we know that we have work to do as a district to ensure equity for each child. This audit is going to help us identify how to better serve each child and to understand the needs of each child on a higher level.”

Vincent praised district leaders and students for their participation in the audit.

“This (audit) is a part of our mission,” Vincent said. “This is what we do; this is what we’re supposed to do at the university. We’re not supposed to stay in our ivory tower, but to work hand-in-hand with communities across Kentucky — the region, the nation and the world — to solve problems.”

LaCour said that racial equity surveys were sent out to students and parents by the school district.

“We had 961 student respondents who had taken the student survey,” she said. “We had 313 district personnel…take the survey so far.

“We are hoping to increase that participation rate by sending out reminders. We’ve only recently heard from parents, so we’re still waiting to gather some responses there.”

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