Policies and Practices In Support of Equity


  • Review policies and practices through the lens of equity and inclusion and recommend revisions where necessary.
  • Collaborate with the School Committee to ensure transparency and accountability for district policies and practices.

There is clearly a need to ensure that the district's policies and practices are supporting all students. In May 2024, the district introduced a clear practice on "Responding to Incidents of Bias or Discrimination in the Needham Public Schools" which was included in each School Handbook.

In the 2023 school year, three policies came before the Needham School Committee for revision as a result of reviewing them through the lens of equity.

The first is a revised Memorandum of Understanding which details the role of the Needham Police and School Resource Officers (SRO) in our schools. While some school districts locally and around the country have paused or ended relationships with local police departments, our partnership established with the Needham Police is intended to ensure that all students feel welcome, included, and safe within school and that a caring and trusting community, guided by responsible adults, exists for each child. We are deliberate in stating what police officers can and cannot do in the school setting, and we are equally clear that school administrators and personnel must not take on law enforcement responsibilities within the school building. The SRO also is committed to receiving ongoing anti-bias and culturally responsive training appropriate for the school setting.

The second policy revision falls under Policy IJL: Selection and Adoption of Library Resources. The Needham Public Schools is committed to providing a balanced collection of high quality, accurate, current, reliable resources that encompass a diversity of identities, perspectives, and learning abilities in order to support the curriculum and foster a love of learning.

The third is a new procedure to ensure that each student has full access to school programs and no student is denied participation because of inability to pay. Policy JQ: Student Fees, Fines, and Charges, first adopted in 2020, is now fully operational and expands the amount of financial assistance available to the students participating in district programs, events, and activities.

The work continues and policy updates are posted at the close of each school year.

Please see below for historical perspective on the action steps carried out over the years to address district Policies and Practices through the lens of equity.

Action Steps:

  • Develop a protocol to principals and school administrators for responding to acts of bias and hate crimes in the Needham Public Schools. This protocol outlined specific steps to ensure safety, investigate, communicate, involve others, support impacted or marginalized students and staff, and promote healing. As a general rule, we will share essential and appropriate information, updates and resources without amplifying the biased and hateful voices or actions of those who violate school rules, school norms, commit crimes, or jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of members of the school community.
  • Update student placement procedures in student handbooks to ensure consistency.
  • Review student attendance, discipline, special education referrals, and related areas of concern to ensure inclusive and supportive policies and practices.
  • Develop a system to regularly collect aggregated and disaggregated discipline data including suspensions, office referrals, and bias-based incidents; and range of responses, current practices, and resources.
  • Provide staff with the skills and tools to be able to implement culturally appropriate responses to behavior and conflict; and help heal individuals, groups, and the community when they experience bias-based incidents or significant harm.
  • Establish guidelines for class placement and course selection - draft completed and shared with principals for feedback.
  • Disaggregate Special education enrollment by sub-group: ELL, race, socio-economic status and the next step is to analyze and identify trends (i.e., disproportionality of students identified into special education).
  • Tiered Focus Monitoring Self-Assessment completed and submitted to DESE for review.
  • Disproportionality of our discipline and response practices being identified in order to build a more inclusive school environment and supportive school climate.
  • Position statement of K-12 Curriculum and Critical Race Theory from the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents circulated internally because it reflects the district's thinking and practices.
  • The School Committee revised our policies pertaining to civil rights in March 2018, including policies on Non-Discrimination and Harassment, Equal Educational Opportunities, and Bullying Prevention.

All of the approved School Committee Policies are posted on the district website. Please see current policies at this link.

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