An anti-racist audit of Montgomery County Public Schools has found significant racial disparities in the Maryland district’s approaches to school culture, community relations and equity of access.
The two-year-long audit on racism, presented Tuesday to the board of education, revealed inequities in how Montgomery County Public Schools addresses the needs of students of color versus their white peers.
The survey, which tallied up over 130,000 responses from community members, found that Black, Native American and Latino students were more likely to report difficulty when applying for advanced classes. Spanish-speaking families cited incidents of bias from staff members and felt their needs weren’t being addressed.
The anti-racist audit, presented to the board by independent auditors Mid-Atlantic Equity Consortium, Inc., reviewed the county’s policies and practices to better understand race and racism in the classroom. It also identified areas of improvement when looking at school cultures.
“I am pleased to have the affirmation of what we have known for years and what student performance data tells us — that students of color have a different experience in our school system,” MCPS Superintendent Monifa McKnight said.
The audit, carried out across two years to review the county’s policies and practices to better understand race and racism in the classroom, identified areas of improvement in approaches to school culture and community engagement. It found that a more systemwide comprehensive approach is needed.
Among its recommendations were the establishment of a better accountability system for racial equity work, and a system to evaluate how effective anti-racism strategies are in the long term.
School officials were also advised to implement an ongoing data collection system, as well as to “continue (the district’s) commitment to ongoing, repeat, two-way community engagement to build trust and meet system goals for anti-racism.”
The next steps include the development of a comprehensive plan alongside community members by March 2023.
“If we are truly going to ensure that all students can succeed, we must eliminate racism in bias in teaching and learning,” McKnight said in a statement.