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  • Writer's pictureTexas Family Project

Leander ISD Hires Chief of Diversity Equity and Inclusion

In the wake of Texas' upcoming law barring "diversity, equity, and inclusion" practices in universities, one Texas school district appointed a Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Leander Independent School District, situated northwest of Austin, appointed DeWayne Street to the DEI Chief position in December 2021, which was absent from the district's 2021 annual report but featured in its 2022 comprehensive financial report.


The district claims the establishment of the Office of DEI in August 2021 was to ensure equitable educational access. The district's description emphasizes professional development along the continuum of reflective practice, using data to address educational gaps and improving access and opportunity for all students. They insist on "calling people into the conversation" rather than "calling people out" to achieve unity of effort and benefit everyone.


However, it's not just K-12 schools jumping on the DEI bandwagon; universities and public institutions have also embraced divisive DEI initiatives, often linked to critical race theory. Recognizing the growing influence of these ideologies, State Sen. Brandon Creighton (R–Conroe) sponsored Senate Bill 17, which was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June. The law prohibits public universities from establishing DEI offices, using DEI criteria in hiring, and mandating DEI training for employees.


Despite these restrictions, Leander ISD claims compliance with the law, asserting they don't use DEI criteria in hiring and don't mandate DEI training for employees. However, their DEI Framework includes monthly professional learning opportunities and cultural competency surveys.


The battle over DEI practices in Texas continues, with ongoing scrutiny and accountability measures to ensure compliance with the new law. Abbott's warnings about potential discrimination resulting from DEI hiring practices in state agencies, including public universities, are echoed in the efforts to curb these practices. The upcoming Leander ISD school board meeting on November 30 may shed more light on the district's stance amid the changing landscape of DEI policies in Texas.


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