Public education is a critical equalizer and HIDOE is making significant strides towards ensuring that all of our haumana have equitable access to quality learning opportunities. With the addition of 15 Equity Specialists — one each dedicated to each of our Complex Areas — schools now have access to support and expertise as never before. Additionally, the Civil Rights Compliance Branch has established two working committees: the Civil Rights Compliance Committee and the Gender Equity in Athletics Committee. And, just last week, training about the benefits and protections provided under Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX) was launched.
Title IX training will continue through the end of the year and will primarily focus on three content areas: sexual harassment and violence, including LGBTQ issues; gender equity in programs and services, specifically gender equity in athletics; and how to conduct appropriate investigations of complaints under Title IX.
Beth Schimmelfennig, Civil Rights Compliance Branch director, shared her excitement about how the first sessions went last week, stating, “The training we received last week was excellent. It is our hope that by the time we wrap up these sessions, we will have someone in each of our 256 public schools trained in identifying areas of concern and the steps that need to be taken to not only comply with Title IX laws, but to make sure we are fostering an environment where all of our students can thrive in academics and athletics.”
It has been a long journey and there is still a lot of work to be done, but I would like to commend our staff and partners for their tireless efforts, as well as those who have spoken up working with the Department on accountability. We will continue to ask our school communities for their support in realizing the vision of Hawaii’s late Congresswoman Patsy Mink, the courageous trailblazer who authored Title IX.
I have shared in multiple Kick Off Your Week messages, presentations and meetings with stakeholders my vision for equity, excellence and innovation that will guide our work as we begin to collect feedback for the Department’s 2020-2030 Strategic Plan. We will have announcements from the State, Complex and school level in the coming months on how you can play a role in shaping the next decade of education in our public schools.