On June 15th, the founders of the Hudson Valley Change Coalition met with officials of the Monroe-Woodbury School District for a 2.5-hour conference on diversifying the curriculum, reevaluating current disciplinary practices and holding students and teachers accountable for racial targeting and discrimination in the classroom.
The Hudson Valley Change Coalition (HVCC) is an initiative that was founded by the creators of the recent Black Lives Matter protest in Monroe, where 700 people attended. The protest was sparked by a single tweet from Shelby Seth, one of the founders of HVCC, and a 2016 Monroe-Woodbury alumni.
“We wanted to keep the momentum that we saw from the protest going,’” Seth said. “After seeing so many young people and older adults within the Monroe community passionate about social justice we decided to create HVCC.”
HVCC founders Chris Omar, Sky Arroyo and Suhi Saran helped Seth organize the Monroe protest as well as create the agenda brought to the meeting with school officials. The agenda lists methods to actively dismantle racism in the classroom, such as employee recruitment focused on diversity, creating media literacy classes and initiating diversity and inclusion lessons.
“I feel we were listened to, however it was very much as a sense of appeasement,” Seth said. “Incidences of racial targeting and bullying in Monroe-Woodbury are not new. I feel like time and time again the administration wants to save face in a politically correct way as to not upset the community.”
Monroe-Woodbury Superintendent of Schools Elsie Rodriquez was unavailable for comment. However, Carole Spendley, the district’s communications coordinator, said that Rodriquez and the rest of the district was looking into HVCC’s agenda.
“She’s listening,” Spendley said. “She’s been talking to parents, groups similar to HVCC and the local community. She’s getting feedback and putting a plan together in accordance.”