Tell Stockton Unified School District to #HonorNativeStudents and families

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I: STOCKTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SHARES A LETTER WITH NATIVE FAMILIES: In a recent unsigned letter released by Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) on 3/2/2018, several alarming announcements were made to Native families including the following updates posted on the Native American Indian Center (NAIC) website here:

  • The Native American Specialist position remains unfilled. This person is charged with providing direct oversight for the NAIC, working with parents, students and families, planning and hosting the Parent Student Advisory Committee (PSAC) monthly meetings, etc.
  • Since it is not feasible to continue to fully run the program without the Native American Specialist, SUSD has no other choice but to put the program on a "temporary pause" for the remainder of the year. SUSD is postponing all upcoming planned events, including the Spring Gathering, and cancelling the remaining three PSAC meetings.
  • During this time, SUSD will work together with local Native American tribes, staff members, parents and the community to restart the hiring process.
  • SUSD will "continue to provide services to students" in the program. The NAIC Assistants will continue to visit school sites daily, and work with students and staff at the various sites with the goal of assisting students with their transition into high school, college and career readiness and focusing on the goal of sharing cultural awareness.
  • Since there is not daily oversight of the NAIC Assistants on the Edison campus, they will be relocated to the Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) Office effective as of Monday, February 26, 2018. The Senior Office Assistant, though, will remain at the Center to receive phone calls from the public and families, receive visitors, provide clerical support for the NAIC Assistants, and continue to maintain records and paperwork for the program.
  • The goal of SUSD is to continue to work diligently in collaboration with the Native American Community so a Native American Specialist is in place for the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. SUSD thanks you in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

II: TIMELINE OF EVENTS FOR THE LARGEST NATIVE EDUCATION CENTER IN CALIFORNIA: The following timeline of events have led to the current state of  Native Education at Stockton Unified School District:

  • April 2017: The former NAIC program coordinator publicly announced his plans to retire in early June.
  • June 2017: The former NAIC program coordinator retires in early June and the role becomes vacant. The board approved an amended job description for the NAIC program coordinator role. The amended changes included removing Indian preference in hiring and changing the title of the role to Native American Specialist.
  • August 2017: NAIC students, families and community leaders proactively shared their qualifications for the Native American Specialist role to the board including letters of support from Native families and the closest federally recognized tribe stating the importance of hiring a leader with Native heritage and the requirement to consult with the closest federally recognized tribe. The district begins the hiring process for the Native American Specialist role.
  • October 2017: The closest federally recognized tribe reaches out to select board members via email regarding concerns in the hiring process after contacting human resources and establishes an opportunity for partnership. The select board members emailed by the tribe do not respond or reach out to any locally federally recognized tribes to establish a partnership to address the concerns brought to their attention.
  • December 2017: SUSD selects a non-Native for the role. NAIC students, families and community leaders share their concerns regarding the hiring process to the board.
  • January 2018. NAIC students, families and community leaders continue to share their concerns with the board (regarding the hiring process being out of compliance) and via email to select board members including additional letters of support from Native families and the closest federally recognized tribe. A board member forwards the email to the Acting Superintendent and the Director of Human Resources, Dan Wright and Craig Wells. Dan Wright and Craig Wells do not reply to the email or reach out and address any of the concerns with Native students and families.
  • February 2018: NAIC students, families and community leaders continue to share their concerns with the board regarding the hiring process and decision. The board voted to disapprove the candidate selected by human resources.
  • March 2018: An unsigned letter to Native families is posted on the SUSD NAIC website sharing the updates communicated in “Section I” above regarding the "temporary pause" of the NAIC until a Native American Specialist is hired by the beginning of the next academic school year in the fall. NAIC students, families and community leaders reach out to the closest federally recognized tribes and confirm that SUSD still hasn’t contacted them for purposes of consultation.

III: THE CURRENT STATE OF NATIVE EDUCATION AT STOCKTON UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT:

  • The hiring process for the Native American Specialist of the largest Native Education Center in California was noncompliant with federal law, discriminatory towards Native candidates and perpetuated educational inequity for Native students. The former leader of the NAIC announced his retirement one year ago and SUSD has the audacity to claim they have worked diligently to fill this position to ensure that the program would continue to run smoothly and thrive as it has in past years. They have clearly communicated a lack of urgency for Native education and continue to dishonor Native students and families while also being out of compliance.
  • Native students and families lose access to resources at the largest Native Education Center in California and all cultural gatherings are cancelled after sharing their voice with the board and influencing the disapproval of the candidate selected by human resources. SUSD claims they have no other choice but to put the program on a “temporary pause” for the remainder of the year because it's not feasible to continue to fully run the program without the Native American Specialist. Native students and families are experiencing retaliation for sharing their voice and advocating for an excellent education.
  • SUSD is failing to provide Native students a culturally responsive education given their actions managing resources for the largest Native Education Center in the state of California. The unsigned letter to Native families was posted on the SUSD NAIC website without personally reaching out via email and/or phone to Native families. This is a clear example of the lack of relationships and transparency with Native students and families. In past years, administration has made it clear that traditional cultural representation and honoring (a beaded eagle feather) was not allowed during graduation ceremony. Native students and families continue to be dishonored by Stockton Unified School District.

IV: IMMEDIATE CALL TO ACTION BY NATIVE STUDENTS, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITY LEADERS: We urge Stockton Unified School District to honor NAIC students and families by adopting the following demands to fulfill their commitment of educational equity for all students stated on their website here:


1. We urge SUSD to facilitate an inclusive hiring process and decision with Native families:

  • Hiring Committee: Engaging Native families in the hiring process is not optional. You are mandated to include NAIC students, families and community leaders as an integral part of the hiring process from reviewing job descriptions to onboarding selected candidates. The choice to limit the voices of Native families on the hiring committee is not adequate to fulfill federal mandates or aligns to best practices. We demand SUSD to facilitate an inclusive hiring process that is led by Native families and local tribes for all staff of the largest Native Education Center in the state of California.
  • Native Preference: Practicing Native preference in the hiring process is not optional. Subject to section 7(b) of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Pub. L. 93-638), SUSD is required to the greatest extent feasible (1) Give Indians preferences and opportunities for training and employment in connection with federal funds designated to serve Native students. We demand SUSD to proudly facilitate the statutory Native preference practices in all hiring processes for the largest Native Education Center in the state of California.
  • Qualifications and Requirements: Including job qualifications and requirements that exclude Native candidates is discriminatory. Educational equity requires an understanding of Native education. Due to limited engagement with Native families and the absence of consultation with local tribes, SUSD failed to gain an understanding of Native Education. Without an understanding of Native Education, SUSD designed a job description with qualifications and requirements that did not align to those of Native students, families and community leaders. Furthermore, the job qualifications and requirements they mandated for the Native American Specialist role excluded Native candidates highly respected and qualified in Native Education. Therefore, the hiring process facilitated by SUSD was discriminatory to Native candidates for the largest Native Education Center in the state of California. We demand SUSD to facilitate an inclusive hiring process for Native candidates that pursues and aligns to the qualifications and requirements set forth by Native families and local tribes as the Native Education experts.

2. We urge SUSD to take the following actions immediately while reopening the hiring process:

  • Leadership: The ongoing absence of leadership for the largest Native Education Center in the state of California is not optional. Hiring a temporary consultant is a solution that enables the NAIC to reopen in full operation and continue to offer all programming and resources (cultural gathers, summer school, traditional graduation ceremonies) to Native students and families-- in addition to the ongoing leadership growth and development of NAIC staff. We demand SUSD to hire a consultant to temporarily lead the Native American Indian Center (NAIC) before the board meeting on 3/27/2018 until a permanent Native American Specialist is hired through a compliant hiring process that also aspires to reflect best practices defined by Native students, families and community leaders.
  • Access: Reopening the NAIC in full operation to provide Native students and families access to all resources of the NAIC is not optional. Access to all resources of the NAIC including all NAIC staff is critical to Native students and families. All resources of the NAIC including all NAIC staff was available to Native students and families without direct oversight of NAIC staff for nine months. Limiting operations and restricting access to all resources of the NAIC including all NAIC staff is impacting Native students and families. We demand SUSD to provide access to all resources of the NAIC including NAIC staff before the board meeting on 3/27/2018.
  • Transparency: Providing transparency to Native students and families is not optional. SUSD failed to provide an inclusive hiring process. Publicly sharing your hiring plan going forward (similar to the transparent public hiring process for the superintendent-- because leadership of the NAIC is equally important) will ensure you can be monitored and held accountable by Native students and families. We demand SUSD to share a detailed hiring plan and timeline for the Native American Specialist role with Native students and families before the board meeting on 3/27/2018.

3. We urge SUSD to provide an equitable and excellent education for Native students and families:

  • Tribal Consultation: Establishing  a partnership of open and ongoing consultation with local tribes is not optional. As stipulated in ESEA section 6114(c)(c)(C), open consultation with the closest federally recognized tribe is a requirement of SUSD, SUSD has failed to meet this federal mandate. We demand SUSD to immediately establish and maintain open consultation with the closest federally recognized tribe before the board meeting on 3/27/2018.
  • Native Grants: Consulting Native families and tribes in the grant writing process is not optional. As stipulated in ESEA section 6114(c)(4), SUSD is mandated to consult Native families and acquire  written approval in the process of seeking federal funds intended to serve Native students. SUSD has failed to meet this federal mandate. We demand SUSD to immediately begin establishing and maintain open consultation with Native families in all grant writing processes seeking to acquire any funds intended to serve Native students before the board meeting on 3/27/2018.
  • PSAC: Maintaining an active Parent Student Advisory Committee (PSAC) is not optional. As stipulated in ESEA section 6114(c)(4), SUSD is mandated to maintain a PSAC for Native Education. PSAC membership includes Native students, families and local tribal representation. Please note the majority of the PSAC must be comprised of Native families. SUSD has failed to meet this federal mandate. We demand SUSD to immediately begin facilitating a process to establish a compliant PSAC in consultation with the closest federally recognized tribe before the board meeting on 3/27/2018.

Stockton Unified School District is failing Native students and families. Stand with us to demand educational equity for Native students and families of the largest Native Education Center in the state of California.

#NativeFamiliesRising

#HonorNativeStudents



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