The Office of Equity

  • equity

  • Our Work
  • Staff & Equity Advisory Panel
  • Learning Resources
  • News and Updates
  • “Equity is teaching and learning that is centered on justice, liberation, truth, and freedom, and is free of bias and favoritism.” Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, 2023

OVERVIEW OF THE OFFICE

  • For more than three decades, Pittsburgh Public Schools has been working attentively towards building racial equity.  Leading in a spirit of developing, implementing, and acting on knowledge that repairs the circumstances and effects of public education history in Pittsburgh is valuable work

    Today, we work with a community-appointed group jointly selected by the Original Advocates for African American Students of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and the school district, known as the Equity Advisory Panel, to embed recommendations that support equity through unrelenting advocacy.  Together we strive to move the needle on equity develop tools to encourage cross-functional supports that convert to frameworks for educational improvement and transformation.  

    Over time, we have seen progressions in school and District culture.  The Office of Equity, established in 2012, is supportive in this process but we know our collective work is far from over.  

EQUITY IS EVERYONE’S RESPONSIBILITY

  • In order to achieve real transformation and system change, all equity initiatives require long-term commitment and strong support throughout the entire organization.

  • The Equity Advisory Panel​ reviews racial disparity data to recommend research-based strategies, methods, and programs that support racial equity in discipline, grading, achievement, and admission to special programs.
  • The Executive Director of Equity ​ maintains, monitors, and distributes racial disparity data reports to the PHRC and the EAP​. Meets with the EAP to exchange and assess information​. Makes recommendations for actions in partnership with the EAP.
  • The Office of Equity ​ coordinates and supports the District’s equity initiatives.
  • The Pittsburgh Public Schools Administration​ details and implements action steps for accomplishing the terms under the MOU; and​ Develops and monitors strategies for reducing racial disparities in achievement, discipline, Special Education, and special program access.​
  • The Pittsburgh Board of Public Education ​ designates a representative of the Board of School Directors to attend EAP meetings.
  • The PA Human Relations Commission​ monitors and measures the District’s progress in achieving equity in achievement, discipline, special education and special program access.

Historical Lens

  • sizemore

    Dr. Barbara A. Sizemore led the original Advocates for African American Students in the Pittsburgh Public Schools that filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee. The District and the Advocates reached a Conciliation Agreement in September 2006.  The Agreement detailed 94 issues action steps to address how the District could reduce the achievement gap, provide instructional support, and create an environment of equity for its African American students to be remedied within five years or by 2012.  In this Agreement, it outlined the creation of an independent volunteer Equity Advisory Panel to monitor the district’s compliance with the Agreement. 

    During the initial period, “substantial progress” was not achieved; consequently, an extended two-year Memorandum of Understanding continued the Agreement to 2014. After two years, “substantial progress” was not met again; therefore, an additional five-year Memorandum of Understanding extended the Agreement to 2020. 

    On October 24, 2018, Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors adopted the Policy 102.5 Equity and Excellence in Education

    On November 9, 2019, Pittsburgh Public Schools announced the next phase in its ongoing efforts to bridge racial equity gaps in the city’s public schools. On Track to Equity: Integrating Equity Throughout PPS is a comprehensive implementation plan that seeks to reduce racial disparities throughout the District and elevate the achievement levels of African American students. 

Timeline

  • 1992 On August 24, 1992, a complaint against the School District of Pittsburgh was filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) charging the District violated sections of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
  • 2006 The District and the Advocates for African American Students, the group that filed the claim, reached a Conciliation Agreement in September 2006.
  • ACTION STEPS The original agreement included 94-action steps that address how the District can reduce the achievement gap, provide instructional support, and create an environment of equity for its African-American students.
  • EAP FORMED Formed in October 2006, representatives from PHRC, the Advocates for African American Students and the District selected members to sit on a 7-member Equity Advisory Panel (EAP) charged with monitoring, advising and reporting on the District’s progress.
  • 2012 Following a review of materials submitted by the District per the Conciliation Agreement, the PHRC was not prepared to conclude that the District had achieved sufficient progress to justify the termination of the agreement. As a result, the District and PHRC agreed to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for an additional two years of monitoring (Aug 2014).
  • 2012- OFFICE OF EQUITY The District’s Equity Office is responsible for monitoring the District’s progress on action steps. It was formed in 2012 during the Lane Adminstration under the leadership of Viola Burgess.
  • 2015 The 2015 MOU to expire in August 2020, continued the District’s commitment to the EAP and the shared goal of equity in education required the District to provide a detailed Implementation Plan with action steps to accomplish the terms under the MOU.
  • 2018 -Policy 102.5 Equity and Excellence in Education The Pittsburgh Board of Education adopted Policy 102.5 Equity and Excellence in Education on October 24, 2018. The Policy will ensure that the District is focused on closing the opportunity gap by providing historically underserved students with equitable access to programming and support resources and eliminating policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce individual and institutional bias and create disparate outcomes.
  • 2019- On Track to Equity: Integrating Equity Throughout PPS The On Track to Equity Implementation Plan details 27 key action steps the District is taking to achieve the items included within each of the 7 areas of the MOU and to reach its desired outcomes for students. Action steps, in line with the District’s 2017 strategic plan, fall within various phases over a three-year period to ensure sufficient staff capacity, strong implementation planning and continuous monitoring.Click to Learn More!
  • 2022- Memorandum of Understanding The new MOU for 2022-2027 outlines the district will schedule the first Independent Equity Audit of the district's "system of education for its African American students". Click to Learn More!