BROOKFIELD — The Elmbrook School Board voted to remove part of a plan to promote equity within the district during a meeting Tuesday night.
Dozens of people turned out to voice their opposition to the equity principles included in the plan. Cheers rang out when the board made the vote.
"Vote no or we will be back here probably in about four or five months, tearing this out of our strategy," one community member said during public comment.
"Our administration has gone rogue and is undermining the board to create the most woke education, which the community doesn't welcome," another person said during public comment.
Since February 2020, more than 50 staff, alumni, parents, board members and administrators have met to draft the plan.
The plan listed six equity principles: identity work, responsibility, collaboration, curriculum and instruction, alignment and diversity of workforce. The plan defined the responsibility principle as, "We are responsible for creating a school system that maximizes the potential of every student and removes barriers to teaching and learning.”
The plan also included steps to close opportunity gaps within the district. In a survey of students in grades 3-12, the district reports 10 percent "responded unfavorably" when they were asked if they felt a sense of belonging. One board member said that equates to about 700 students.
"More than 1,000 recent graduates have made the district aware of the need for improvement in enhancing access and opportunities to traditionally underrepresented subgroups and in preparing graduates for success in a world that demands greater understanding of diversity and inclusion," one member of the community said.
The district also reports 6 percent of staff identify as a person of color, which is 25 percent less than the student population.
"Our work in reducing opportunity gaps in our district is the right work," said Elmbrook Schools Superintendent Mark Hansen.
But some board members said they think the focus on equity is too divisive.
"It's like we’re speaking two different languages," board member Glen Allgaier said. "One thinks we're doing critical race theory, and the other group thinks the people who feel that way are racist."
According to the American Bar Association, critical race theory, "acknowledges that the legacy of slavery, segregation, and the imposition of second-class citizenship on Black Americans and other people of color continue to permeate the social fabric of this nation.”
The board said critical race theory will not be taught in the district.
The board also sent the principles back to the administration to work on after Sept. 1.
Read the proposal here: