TUHSD Board approves anti-racism policy

Ava Razavi

On Tuesday, June 14, 2022, the Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) Board of Trustees voted to approve the Racial Justice Task Force’s (RJTF) anti-racism policy. This policy was drafted by both students and educators across the district over the past two years. The decision was supported by four out of the five Board members present at the meeting. Trustee Kevin Saavedra was absent the entirety of the meeting due to a family emergency and Clerk Dan Oppenheim left the meeting early.

This particular Board meeting was not the first time the anti-racism policy was up for discussion. During the past two Board meetings, this policy has been reviewed by the trustees and sent back to the RJTF with edits. The main issue the Board found in the previous version of the policy was that the glossary and bibliography did too much outsourcing. Thus, the RJTF decided to omit those parts of the policy entirely.

Following three meetings worth of discussion, the TUHSD Board approved the RJTF’s anti-racism policy. (Photo courtesy of Alli Runnfeldt)

Following the May 24, 2022 meeting, there was much controversy due to the postponing of a vote, which was previously covered by the Bark here. In response to the controversy, members of the RJTF and supporters of the policy came to speak during the public comment session of the meeting.

Ruby-Rose Amezcua, co-leader of the RJTF’s policy subcommittee and a student of color at Tamalpais High School, spoke on the importance of the precedent this policy will set in regard to administrative responses to racism within TUHSD.

“The policy will show to students and staff that the district is aware of the racism that exists and will work to dismantle it,” Amezcua said during the meeting. “It is our hope that this policy and the administrative regulations that will accompany it, will be the beginning of truly making a difference in the institutional racism that is in our district.”

In response to Amezcua, as well as previous allegations about his own stance on anti-racism, Oppenheim shared his thoughts on the events of the past Board meeting.

“Unfortunately, there seemed to be an accusation from two members on the Board that my concern about [the policy] equated to not understanding the environment that students face and not wanting to fix the environment, the predictable outcomes and achievement gaps,” Oppenheim said. “Enacting this policy but not putting sufficient action and resources behind it would not even be half-hearted, it would be disingenuous.”

Similarly, Trustee Cynthia Roenisch chose to reflect on postponing the vote from the previous Board meeting and the implications it holds for the student body.

Infographic by Caitlin Beard

“We were ready to pass this policy three weeks ago, and yes, I hope that we pass it tonight, but I am sorry that you had to come back. I am sorry we didn’t take the steps three weeks ago under the auspices of having a five to zero vote,” Roenisch said.

After noting this, Roenisch made a motion to approve the anti-racism policy and opened up the floor for open comment. At that point, approximately six students and educators came up to the podium to voice support for the policy.

After half an hour of public comment from both in-person and virtual attendees, the Board unanimously voted to approve the anti-racism policy, creating a four to zero vote.

As a final remark, Board President Karen Loebekka thanked everyone for their hard work on the task force and within the district.

“We respect and appreciate all the work you have done and we are delighted to approve this policy. As everyone has noted, this is just the beginning. It’s a mere step in the right direction,” Loebekka said.