The mission of the district is to provide students with a safe and supportive environment, enabling them to engage in a quality education that empowers them to be successful in their next step in life.
These words are the foundational belief of our school district. They matter. The School Board and Administration have heard from some of our students and families that we are not living up to that promise because they do not feel safe or supported in our schools.
Lower Dauphin School District seeks to maintain a culture of dignity and belonging where every child feels safe, supported, and able to reach their full potential. The district takes all incidents of discrimination, race-based hate speech, and jokes intended to ridicule, single out, insult, or harm students seriously. Ignoring and tolerating such behaviors fosters a toxic school culture that can have negative impacts on students’ learning, well-being, peer engagement, student-teacher relationships, and sense of belonging.
At no time is it acceptable for students, faculty, staff, or visitors to use race-based speech (including slang) or other forms of verbal and nonverbal communication to target another person publicly or in private. Discriminatory and hateful speech has no place at Lower Dauphin. This includes speech targeting age, color, creed, education level, ethnicity, family background, family income, gender, geographic location, immigration status, language, marital status, national origin, occupation, parental status, physical and mental ability, political beliefs, pregnancy, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and veteran status.
As a district, we are committed to looking critically at ourselves and ensuring all our schools provide a welcoming environment for every student in the district. We recognize that this is an ongoing process and are committed to the work it will take for all students to feel safe, welcomed, and supported in an inclusive learning environment where they are able to thrive.
Equity, Inclusion and Belonging in Lower Dauphin
(adapted from Pennsylvania Department of Education)
Equity in education is defined as every student having access to the resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, family background and/or family income.
Inclusion is defined as engagement within a community where the equal worth and inherent dignity of each person is honored. An inclusive community promotes and sustains a sense of belonging.
Belonging is defined as experiencing appreciation, validation, acceptance, and fair treatment within an environment.
Perceptions and Clarity
Perception: Equity, inclusion, and belonging is only for urban educational spaces with diverse populations.
Clarity: Equity, inclusion, and belonging helps create access, opportunity, and a healthy learning environment for ALL learners, regardless of demographic (urban, rural, suburban). Educational communities include people of varying lived experiences who have diverse needs and a variety of strengths.
Perception: Equity, inclusion, and belonging is another way of promoting Critical Race Theory.
Clarity: Critical Race Theory is not part of or taught in any state-required curriculum. Equity, inclusion, and belonging in education helps create spaces for ALL learners and staff to be their authentic selves. Discussions about cultures and identities in education are important to ensure equitable access for ALL learners.
Perception: Equity, inclusion, and belonging is only about funding.
Clarity: Equitable funding is an important consideration to ensure fair access and opportunity for students across Pennsylvania. Funding is one part of the process to create healthy learning environments - but it cannot shift systems in isolation.
Perception: Equity, inclusion, and belonging suggests that I am not a good person or that my education system is bad.
Clarity: It is important to understand who we are as we interact with others. Self-Awareness, one of the state Department of Education's 'equity pillars of practice', invites people to explore and reflect upon their own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Self-awareness supports how to engage in healthy relationships with people of diverse backgrounds—but it is not intended to encourage guilt, shame, or hopelessness. Discussing equity, inclusion, and belonging may be uncomfortable. However, it is important to ensure we can engage with individuals, families, and communities who are different from us.
Perception: Equity, inclusion, and belonging does not allow for diverse viewpoints.
Clarity: Diverse viewpoints are an important part of our democracy and help our nation thrive. Equity, inclusion, and belonging help create the conditions for civil dialogues to occur. Equity in voice, inclusion of different perspectives, and honoring the lived experiences of others is a vital part of preparing youth for global citizenship, as well as a global workforce and marketplace.