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October 13 Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education Meeting Notes

October 13 AAPS Board of Education Meeting Notes

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You can watch the meeting live on Zoom or on Xfinity Channel 18 or in person at the Sheraton. The district typically posts the recording split into segments the day after the meeting.

Note: Our family schedule this fall does not make live blogging the meetings easy this year. This year’s meetings have been more routine than 2021-2022. So, I will be recording the meetings on Channel 18 and blogging them as my schedule allows on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.


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Call to Order

Roll Call

Note: The Channel 18 recording started in the middle of roll call and without volume. Attendance is based on my observations

Present:, Kelly, DuPree, Querijero, Lazarus, Baskett, Gaynor

Absent: Johnson

Trustee Kelly ran the meeting in Trustee Johnson’s absence

Other Attendees: Swift, Osiniski, Cluley, (some commenters – not shown on camera), Margolis, Linden, Fidishin

Agenda

Motioned by DuPree, Seconded by Baskett. Unanimously approved by voice vote without discussion.

Public Commentary

As is our practice, we do not cover public commentary. There were 16 comments tonight – all of which are on Board Docs.


Events from our Sponsors


Clarifications

Kelly: Thank you for submitting. Public Commentary is an important part of our meeting. This is a time for clarification of mis-statements and misunderstandings. I believe the Superintendent Update and agenda items will be helpful.

Swift: Yes.

Gaynor: I have a question about policy on public commentary. The first comment which I saw in advance. It didn’t have a last name to it – and some question to the facts of it. Do we allow that.

Swift: I believe we can get it from the email address.

Reports of Associations

None tonight

Board Committee Reports

Finance Committee

Gaynor: I had a medical appointment and missed the last meeting. If anyone who was there has more to add. We did get briefed on the first briefing items for tonight… Pediatric Therapy Associates Agreement, Lexia Reading License at Middle and Limited High School, and Road Salt

Kelly: Announcements of committee meetings are on the Board tab of the AAPS website.

Superintendent Update

Swift: Tonight’s update focuses on things we’re working to improve.

Today is 6 weeks of school and 6 weeks from yesterday we will send students on Thanksgiving break. We are in the heart of the school year. COVID is impacting our ability to operate as smoothly as we were in the before times.

We were thrilled with the president’s announcement to governors to be prepared to vaccinate children as young as 5 by early next month. We were in with partners from Washtenaw County Health Department on Friday and had another conversation today. They are prepared. We are partnering with them to offer locations. We hear they and pediatricians, pharmacies, etc. will have the child vaccine available. We are also thrilled that boosters are available for our staff.



As commenters observed, there are still operational challenges. We are making progress and amending our plans based on what we are learning and as COVID information changes. We are focused particularly on health and safety, hiring, staffing and labor shortages on gaps in our daily operations particularly in transportation. We have had 2 AAPS virtual job fairs. The second was today. We are seeing them be effective, but we continue with openings. We invite everyone called to serve children to check out our job openings.

We have made progress with custodial and food & nutrition. They are getting closer to being fully staffed. We do continue recruitment and increased hourly rates we struggle to find before and after childcare workers. Despite best efforts, some processes aren’t at expected high performance level. I want to apologize for the situation and promise we will implement corrections every day.

Transportation Update

We currently transport about 3750 general ed students daily. That is down a bit as a result of driver shortages. We also transfer 134 students as part of IEP plans – some are weekly, some are daily based on program enrollment. Buses travel over 6000 miles a day – the equivalent of driving to Anchorage Alaska and back every day. There are 101 routes. It’s important to quantify the challenge.

(Note: I saw Trustee Johnson arrived at this point).

About 80-85% are running on time with their bus driver every day. There are 15-20 routes that will be impacted by shortage of drivers. We have 91 full time drivers. Sometimes they have to miss work on occasion plus 13 casual who support as substitute driver. We now have among top hourly pay for drivers.

As a result, about 18 drivers in training. 6 came in with CDL already which is great because that takes several weeks. Staffing up this team is a process. We have folks to resole issue, but there is no cushion and we are headed into winter. Realistically this is a problem that will be several more weeks.

Steps we are taking:

  • Aligned compensation & benefits
  • Working with strategies
    • Combining Routes – may run 15-30 minutes late, but every child who needs it will have transportation. Consistent communication in advance the night before. We’re stabilizing and hope to be able to put it out a week at a time. Then people who are able to can make other arrangements. Principals are making sure free breakfast is still available for those arriving late. These routes will be staffed as new drivers come on line.
    • Daily Route Stacking – Some routes not covered by combined and need to be stacked. Runs route A, then runs route B. Those can be delayed around an hour or even a bit more. We only use it when there are morning callouts and emergencies. We make every attempt to avoid it. We understand they are a burden, but we do’t have a cushion of substitute. 6:30-7:30a every morning we get the update to notify parents and principals.

I appreciate parents who’ve stopped by the bus depot with treats for the bus drivers. And want to give a shoutout to Ed Gallagher our manager at Durham. I want to remind everyone to be respectful when interacting with driers and monitors. We want to get more colleagues for them to have backups.

Querijero: Under strategy 1, what strategy has been taken to ensure the same routes aren’t impacted over and over. Is it geographical, school, time? How is it being born by community at large.

About Strategy 3 with license (Swift – I left that one out). Do we have a date?

Swift: The combined routes are geographical and impacted over again. Ms Margolis will tell you when she has an extra driver to ease those routes.

Strategy 3 – we are looking at using smaller vehicles. At this time we’re looking to convert about 10% with low riders to put them on a 10-12 person van. In that situation we can use an employee with a chauffeur license instead of a CDL. Ms Minnick & procurement are looking for how quickly we can get the right safety equipped van. It would increase the pool of candidates. They’re also good for the smaller sports teams.

DuPree: First thank you for all the problem solving. How are we handling attendance with students arriving late? Are they marked tardy? How are they making up missed works.

Swift: Our school teams are workign with them. It is not counted as absence or tardy. They’re working with school teams especially at middle and high school.

Querijero: We have 18 in training, 6 with CDL. I think we’re at 80% on time. Of the 18 being trained, to what extent will the 18 being trained fill out the schedule.

Swift: Depending on the morning, we are 15-20 drivers short. On a typical morning, everyone in the office is driving. That’s why parents call and response time is slow because everyone is out driving. The strategies will be in place from now to Thanksgiving. The drivers are not ready today. It is resetting our expectations. This is not a quick fix.

Lazarus: I like the thinking on number 3. Can you give an idea of how many buses that are currently transporting smaller groups, would fill up a full bus and driver?

Swift: Ms Margolis is deep in that work. It is probably 5-10% of our routes.

Margolis: Most of our routes are really full with 30+ kids. We are looking at special ed routes to combine those services. Vans would have lifts, harnesses. Also preschools like Bryant where we have fewer students. There are a few routes where we could use a larger van, but mostly special ed and preschool.

Swift: We’re also required by law to transport to some private schools and we can put those on vans. When in combination with the 18 drivers coming through, we could get there.

Margolis: I want to emphasize stacked is really the last option and we try to avoid because of the burden it provides.

Baskett: I want to manage expectations. This is a hopeful scenario. Bus drivers are humans. They get sick, and have kids get sick, and family members. We know we could lose a few along the way.


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COVID Health & Safety

As you know we work every day. Our students and school teams are doing a great job at following COVID mitigation steps. I’m around schools when I can be. They’re outside when they can, wearing masks indoors. Even young kids can tell you they’re wearing the mask to protect others.

Our nurse & health specialist team are doing case management, contact tracing, etc. day and night including weekends. We are consistently working with the Washtenaw County Health Department daily.

We do continue to see high transmission in Ann Arbor and see increased cases across our district. We have observed evidence of in school transmission in a few cases. We expect to see one or two here or there. At 3 locations in the previous few days we have seen a higher level of cases.

To update on Pittsfield, the Washtenaw County Health Department determined some cases were a school outbreak. This week at Burns Park, about 24 student cases plus staff cases in the few days. They did a popup testing for families at Burns Park today (75 tests) and identified additional cases plus about 5 sibling cases pending. The sudden acceleration of cases is a concern and investigation is underway.

It is more important than ever that students remain home when they have any symptoms. Vaccinated students and staff continue to be far less impacted by illness. We strongly urge all to get vaccinated who are eligible.

AAPS team has moved from 94% to 95% fully vaccinated. I don’t know another district with that high of a rate.

Our preschool through sixth grade buildings are inhabited by individuals who are unable to be unvaccinated. We need your help. We’re so close with change of season, fall holidays, Halloween, colder weather and moving indoors. We want to hold on to the strong school opening. Please reconsider gatherings – move outdoors, wear a mask indoors, etc. Our staff is working hard and sacrificing time with their own families.

Gaynor: I appreciate those last words. That’s where I was going to lead off. I know everyone is going all out to make this work this year after last year’s trauma. It’s hard when kids have to quarantine. I’ve gotten good reviews about quarantine learning plan that went out. It’s not perfect, but it’s workable. We all know special education students with IEPs not in person aren’t getting the services they need. But the continuous cooperation by everyone.

I know you spoke about the importance of self-care. I’ve got a question after that, the Schoology expectations. What are teachers and staff can they do to preserve mental and physical health?

Swift: The team has had great discussions on this. I’m not pretending there is a solution I can offer. I hear great discussions about offering opportunities during the class period, school day for students and staff to take a break. I see them taking music breaks, exercise breaks, walks in the woods around the school. Checking in with each other, sharing the work. Some things don’t matter as much. What matters is connecting with students and each other. Reestablishing a foundation of care.

Gaynor: I appreciate you saying that. Some teachers understand and others feel under the gun. By the way the first public commentary was mentioning my advocacy for teachers. I stand behind that. I’m proud of that.

DuPree: Followup Question with the COVID cases rising. Every day we get another update. There are certain areas they are rising faster than others – for example in 48197 212 cases according to Washtenaw County. If a building decided they want to opt into virtual for the remainder of the year, will they have the option to do that.

Swift: I was talking to WCHD this week. We’ll work with students and families. If families feel they’ve come this far but need to take a pause, reach out to teacher and principal – mainly the principal. We have some options coming on line we didn’t have before with Quarantine learning plan. We want to work with families.

Johnson: We all get the messages. It is sobering to hear about the cases. I do believe people will do what is necessary to make sure we stay in school. In some cases, people may not understand exactly what to do. As we’re seeing larger spread, are there any commonalities? If we can share those it gives people more direction of what not to do.

Swift: One is a group where there was a gathering. Typically indoors with children from different families. Whether it’s a birthday party or family. The other is families who have been truly vigilant but now are exposed because they’re going to school with others who have been socially active. I was with a mother the other day. I know we have not had any contact other than schools.

95% of our student cases are among unvaccinated students.

Baskett: Could you speak to challenges with contact tracing.

Swift; Thank you for asking. Our nursing team are on duty 7 days a week alternating weekends. They call every close contact to do the interview. The challenges are the time. It takes 2-4 hours per case. So last week when we had 50 cases, you can see how that stacks up. These are the same nurses responsible for health plans at school. The challenge comes if folks aren’t forthcoming. We’ve had that occur and it compromises the health and safety of individuals.

Baskett: My question is how we work with that? If parents aren’t fessing up – carpooling, social gatherings, etc. How are we dealing with that? It’s important we identify who could be infected.

Swift: It is a referral to the public health department. They’re the authority.

Baskett: So we would report to the health department if a family isn’t answering or not being forthcoming. So we respect everyone’s privacy, but it’s important for the community to know their child could be potentially at risk.

Querijero: I just wanted to ask. Can you share information around what a family could do to self-test at home? How can we make that more accessible, especially those who might have limited access to finances or transportation.

Swift: We can support families with testing. We have a variety of ways and partnerships with locations, weekly testing we have. We have several popups forthcoming as well.

Johnson: One question or comment. We just talked about transportation challenges and a recommendation was carpooling. Given we have a pandemic, those realities force exposure in close quarters. We should communicate what families should do if they carpool.

Ms Osinski read a public commentary that was missed earlier advocating test to stay and questioning why we aren’t using it (I don’t see the commenters name on the list of public commentary or the the attached document).


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First Briefing

Pediatric Therapy Associates Agreement – Annex AN-2061

Swift: Ms Linden and Dr Fidishin are sharing details. This is an annual item for your review. It is a way we supplement our services. You will recognize this.

Linden: We are bringing forward the request and recommendation as we do every year.

Fidishin: This is an annual contract. Pediatrict Therapy Associates is a company that provides services to support our students in their IEPs. This is to supplement our AAPS employees. For the past 5 years, we’ve been relatively stable in regard to cost incurred – about $440-455K. Over the course of 5 years, their hourly rate has ranged $57-59. That is a big cost savings compared to other contracting agencies.

As Dr Swift mentioned, it supports our students and we also use them to help when we have staff on leave – maternity leave, temporary illnesses, etc.

I also want to mention compared to other agencies, this is a local agency.

Baskett: No question, but to confirm that we have been happy with their work> I see the evaluation presented as highly effective in many categories. Sounds like we are consistently pleased with them and the work relationship has been positive. There are no changes at this time, and it is an annual renewal?

Linden/Fidishin: Yes and Yes.

Gaynor: I’m not sure how much this is related, but while we have you here Dr Fidishin. Families with students with IEPs who have elected to stay virtual, asynchronous virtual but were expecting live services. My understanding is they weren’t getting live services. I’m seeking clarificaiton.

Fidishin: We have an elementary K-6 and a secondary program 6-12. We have 4 vairations of the program

A2 Virtual Live – is synchronous iwth a classroom teacher and get synchronous virtual services via home school.

A2 Virtual Elementary is asynchornous services. If students do get ancillary serivces get them synchronous from home school if parents elect that. There are some parents electing asynchronous services.

A2 Virtual+ part-time program and receive services from home school staff since they are in person most of the itme

A2 Virtual+ full time are receiving services from home school staff.

At this time we are seeking staff to provide all these services.

Querijero: In committee, we discussed being able to add and supplement as needed.

Fidishin: That’s a great question. They’ve been very flexible as we need to increase or decrease hours.

Lazarus: Thank you. I’m not sure if we spoke about it in finance committee, this cost is funded through general funds but reimbursable from special education from WISD. Would any of these services qualify for COVID recovery?

Linden: If it is gap filling from the pandemic, it is a piece we are working on with ESSR-2 & ESSR-3 funds. Short answer is yes.

Johnson: Thank you trustees. We will see this again in second briefing.


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Lexia Reading License Middle School & Limited High School – Annex AN-2062

Swift: We were delighted to begin using Lexia a while back. It is one tool in the tool box. Teachers have felt in the past there weren’t enough tools to address reader’s need. We have used it in elementary. This is an extension to Middle & K-8 schools and a few limited high school licenses particularly in self-contained classes.

Linden: One of our core values is to ensure all our students develop literacy skills and are proficient. You may recall Michigan third grade reading law, so there has been a focus.

Back in 2017 we adopted Lexia Core 5 at elementary level. This past year we became a one to one district. We can provide core plus more. Practices for intervention required leaving general ed class room for specialized instruction. We’ve learned a lot. Now they get instruction from general ed teacher and intervention.

This past spring, Lexia completed middle school portion and gave us a free trial. About 100 teachers used it in April-June. It begins with an activity that provides screening information about whether intervention is needed. Students who need it would use it. They get a personalized adaptive lesson plan. It’s available to everyone, but we are using it for targeted intervention support. Both independently after school and during school. Teachers can also access tools for direct interventon.

After the trial, the teachers discussed whether it was effective and if we should pursue. The overwhelming answer was yes. We are asking for 2 years of license at $114K.

Particularly at high school level we have a few students who need intervention at various levels and presents it in a developmentally appropriate way.

We’ll be checking our data to make sure it is working as we think it will and then we’ll be back to renew or ask for a new program. This does qualify for ESSR funding as a gap filling tool.

Gaynor: First quick question, what distinguishes this from Read 180 which was pretty much a colossal failure.

Linden: That was where we were before Core+. It was 90 minutes of specialized instruction daily removing them from general education classroom.

Gaynor: I taught elementary and middle. I supported Lexia in elementary school. But do they work now at middle school if they didn’t work in elementary school. How do you see this being used? Will teachers be required to use it? We’ve talked about teachers having too many mandates.

Linden: All teachers will have access to the tool and we hope they will find it useful. We do know many secondary teachers don’t consider themselves early literacy experts. When they see a student struggling, they can reach out with the tool. We want students who need this level of intervention to use it regularly. The on-demand nature of learning is important. Learning doesn’t just happen i the classroom.

Gaynor: My experience is they would meet with students a few minutes.

Linden: We’re excited about the intervention model with Core + more. The intervention support are co-teaching in the classroom, pulling small groups aside during small group work. They have clubs running before and after school. During school day, it would be used by intervention teacher as small group support.

Lazarus: During committee you talked about how this supports Michigan Department of Education focus and more in line with their goals for schools to follow. Can you expand?

Linden: Michigan Department of Education has had an emphasis on literacy. The 3rd grade reading law emphasizes on grade level by that point. But students come to us after that without those skills. This is a supplement to the hard work going on at elementary level.

It supports the 5 areas of literacy. It takes phonics awareness piece and call it word work, comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, etc. Trustee Gaynor you mentioned Read 180, a lot of the old versions were not culturally responsive. Lexia is. English learners are a targeted team. This is a way for middle level students to get the support.

Lazarus: That’s wonderful news. You mentioned this helps us identify gaps. We’ve had ways of identifying in the past. Does this replace that so we save money there?

Linden: The answer is yes. You may recall we have done Scholastic Reading Inventory for all students at the middle school level. It gave us a single number. From Lexia we get far more information in different areas and feedback teachers can provide. So we will not be renewing the Scholastic Reading Inventory.

Kelly: It’s always important to be on cutting edge. How will it look? Will it be preloaded on chromebooks? Do teachers need to distribute?

Linden: Through Schoology and clever logins. We purchase as a site license. The K-8 already have it as they were part of the elementary program. It should be available to all students at any time.

Kelly: How might a student be identified as astudent who should use it more? How does it work with our current landscape of tiered responses.

Linden: When they log in the first time, there are activities and it serves as a screening test. The report tells teacher if student is average on track, above average, behind. And it is a scale, how far below or above students are. So we’d want to look for students behind. We look at multiple things. This is a one time assessment. We use the NWEA and teacher evaluation.

Kelly: are all students doing the introductory activity? And students who scores raise alarm bells keep working.

Swift: That may also be through teacher as well – or interventionist?

Kelly: Will it be built into the school day or after school hours?

Linden: Yes and Yes.

Kelly: How has Lexia been studied on impact for students with dyslexia?

Linden: It has been designed specifically for those area. It is designed to be adaptive and provide support where they struggle. If it sees the same error popping up, it addresses. The computer doesn’t take the place of a teacher, but we believe it will work for most students. And bringing data back on it.

Kelly: Have we found the pilot group results match what Lexia says?

Linden: The time was so short. It was made available to all, but not really implemented as an intervention. Fo the 1000 who tried it, about 300 stuck with it and their data looks good. But I don’t want to generalize on that.

Kelly: Is it too tight to get copies of research before second briefing?

Linden: Nope, we can get you that.

Kelly: Is SRI going away?

Linden: NWEA also provides the same lexile score as SRI and Lexia gives more information. So SRI is going away.

Johnson: I’m glad you mentioned data and how excited we are. Can we see across schools? ALso can you talk about data at an aggregate level and about data privacy?

Linden: We do have the ability to aggregate and disaggregate data. We do regularly take a look at it. At many of our K-5 we have an intervention model where only teachers/interventionists working with a student to data. We are very careful with how our partners have access to our data. Dr Kellstrom has an eagle eye and makes sure it secures our data. Lexia doesn’t see individual student data. We don’t go to them for support with storing data.

Johnson: You atlk about cultural responsiveness especially around English Language Learners.

Linden: I can summarize, but the proof will be in the data. The way SRI presents a student with a passage to read. The excerpts in SRI were pretty white dominant and some students had data others didn’t have. Int his tool, there are more diverse texts and types of characters and experiences. It doesn’t mean every text doesn’t have some bias, but it’s a diverse set of biases.


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Road Salt Purchase – Annex AN-2063

Swift: Another annual rite of school board leadership and organizational responsibility which is the bulk salt to maintain our roadways, and parking lots. Mr Rice & Ms. Minnick shared at a finance committee meeting. This is being made through a Michigan Consortium MIDEAL for the best prices negotiated at state level. The contract went to Detroit Salt Company. Typically we buy 1250 tons of salt. We also look at remains from last year.

We project to use about 1250 tons annually, but it is never precise. Last year was a bit more – $87K. This year it is 29% less at $61.5K. Even though we weren’t in school we were still responsible and liable to keep lots cleared. Last year there were issues with getting salt. Morton Salt in Ohio and Detroit Salt were in a bidding war driving the price up. It is $49.26/ton this year vs $60.15/ton.

During COVID times this may be the only

Remember this is not the sidewalk salt. We changed to a more eco-friendly, product that was safer for concrete. But at $6/50lb bag it is not practical for larger areas like parking lots

Kelly: I see funding is from general funds. But since it’s related to maintenance can it come from another fund.

Swift: No, sinking fund can’t be maintenance and has to be attached to the building. We do watch our general fund. This amount covers about 35 locations. People forget we have a couple locations that aren’t buildings plus the bus depot which needs to be well salted so we are safe and ready to go.

Consent Agenda

Three items on the list

  • Approve minutes from September 22 Regular Meeting
  • Approve minutes from September 29 Regular Meeting/Board Workshop
  • Donations – air filters and purifiers to various schools.

Motioned by Kelly. Seconded by Lazarus. Motion passes unanimously


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Board Action

The board is considering a resolution for public censure against Trustee Gaynor. We cover the board meetings to provide information for parents on what is going on in the school. We do not cover the inner workings/politics of the board and are not covering the discussion here.

A PDF version of the censure is available online.

Motioned by Querijero. Seconded by Baskett. Motion passes with Kelly, Baskett, Querijero, Johsnon, DuPree, and Lazarus voting yes and Gaynor voting no.

Items for Agenda Planning

Querijero: I would like to request from Executive Committee to get an updated to get report on Dykema?

Kelly: At last board retreat we discussed moving superintendent evaluation from calendar year to school year cycle. I’m curious as to whether we can accept it or if we need to have a performance or executive committee to propose move.

Baskett: Are you talking about this cycle, or future as well?

Kelly: My proposal would be to do it for this cycle for complications of this school year, and can talk about future.

Querijero: As a general rule, I would yield to superintendent for how much she has to plan in the coming months. Considering how much she is handling right now, I favor whatever is easier for her.

Johnson: The VP manages that process. I’d be comfortable with her and Dr Swift making that decision.

Baskett: I fell it is a performance committee items.

Lazarus: I’m open to having the discussion in performance and maybe ask VP Kelly to join us?

Kelly: Is Performance scheduled? If that isn’t scheduled, then we’re not in time for the year.

Lazarus: I don’t think it’s even physically possible to keep the schedule we are on. I think we know the answer.

Baskett: I withdraw my requiest. You are right it is too late. Hash it out in executive and bring it back to us.

Baskett: Regional Alliance for Healthy Schools. I’ve been the liaison to that committee and I’d appreciate having a presentation from them. I don’t think we’ve ever had one.

Swift: Thank you. They were ready as you recall in March 2020 to present. So we will reach out immediately. It fits with our fall focus on supports.

Baskett: I would also like the Executive Committee to make a recommendation on these in person meetings.


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Items from the Board

Lazarus: Last board meeting I volunteered to be a delegate at the MASB meeting and was emailed the assembly handbook. One of the suggestions they give you is to share it with all board members to give me feedback on how we should vote or if you want to attend. Has anyone received it? No, I’ll share it out and request feedback.

Baskett: It may have gotten buried but the Bond Committee is looking for applications to join our Bond Group. Application is on the website.

If you haven’t seen MASB Leaderboard the cover story is on diversity and equity and includes students living with hidden differences – prosthetics, anxiety, etc. These are students of current and former staff members.

Last month we talked about declaring this as Hispanic History Month, it is also Filipino-American History Month. We have APISA/A to support Asian families. They have monthly zoom meetings and will have an in person meeting coming up soon.

Johnson: Monday was recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day. We talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I want to acknowledge that it was Indigenous People’s Day and talk about how we should recognize going forward.

DuPree: It was also National Coming Out Day on October 11.

Querijero: I’d also like to acknowledge what President Johnson said and recognizing that we are on Indigenous People land. Other groups acknowledge at every meeting.

Adjourn

Moved by Kelly, seconded by Querijero. Passed unanimously by voice vote at 9:43.

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