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Bangor schools looking to partner with UMaine on equity audit

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Gabor Degre
/
Bangor Daily News file
Bangor High School

The school district in Maine's third largest city has new plans that officials say should improve diversity and inclusion.

One is a new partnership with the Bangor School Department and the University of Maine, which will review Bangor school policies, climate and culture and offer recommendations.

"Part of that process would be interviewing administrators," said Bangor Schools Superintendent James Tager. "They would look at our hiring practices. They'd look at our perspectives on DEI, access and equity issues in the schools."

The audit was a suggestion from a group of more than 40 diversity, equity and inclusion experts who recently provided several of their own recommendations to the school department, Tager added.

The University of Maine partnership will also provide training to a few Bangor teachers on diversity and inclusion, who will share what they’ve learned with the rest of the school department.

Tager said the partnership isn't finalized just yet, but once it is, he expects it will launch by the start of the new school year in September.

Under other initiatives, principals and other administrators involved in hiring at Bangor schools will be required to take annual implicit bias training.

And school officials are planning a comprehensive review of the school curriculum so that all Bangor students can identify with the instructional materials, Tager said.

The department is also planning a recruiting trip to Boston to entice graduates from historically Black colleges and universities to come teach in Bangor.

Feedback from the school community on the plans so far has been mixed, said Tager, who acknowledged that the national rhetoric around diversity, equity and inclusion in schools can stir debate.

"We should have a sense of belonging for every single student, and if we don't we're falling short," he said. "So I think the work is important. But I do think that we have some work to educate not just the community but our faculty and staff as well [about] the work and what the work is and what the work is not."