Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Ladue School District is committed to creating and maintaining a welcoming, equitable and inclusive environment that is reflective of and celebrates our diverse student population. We uphold high academic standards for all students through culturally responsive classroom instruction, professional development, and sustainable relationships with community stakeholders.

Please note the links and information to the right, which includes: district demographics; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) events; and recommended resources.

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Board of Education Presentation– 11/9/20

Leadership and Partnerships

Dr. Jennifer Riesenmy: Coordinator of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
jriesenmy@ladueschools.net  (314)983-5962

The district’s efforts in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are led by the Curriculum & Instruction Department, the Student Services Department and the District Diversity Committee.

Superintendent’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Educational Equity Consultants                                                                                                              Ladue School District has partnered with Educational Equity Consultants (EEC) for additional guidance and support with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.  The district’s relationship with Educational Equity Consultants began years ago, and EEC has become a trusted advisor.  Currently, EEC is working with the district to specifically identify the greatest areas of need and the best means to address them in order to help the district focus its energy where it will be of the most value to students and staff.  This work is being done through a districtwide Equity Audit, which is being facilitated by EEC consultants Billie Mayo and Phil Hunsberger.

Related Policies and Procedures

Expectations in Our Schools

Culturally Responsive Curriculum. We believe that students and staff should see themselves in every facet of our schools, from the lessons they are taught, to the images on the walls, to the people used as examples of leaders in various fields of study. The district is engaged in an ongoing process to intentionally ensure that people from a wide variety of ethnicities, cultures and genders are well-represented in all of our schools’ programming and curriculum.

Conversation is Encouraged. While conversations regarding ethnic and cultural differences can be uncomfortable, they are important to all of our students and staff feeling welcome and safe in our schools. Teachers are trained in facilitating these conversations, as appropriate for the age of the students in their class. Click here for examples of how this philosophy plays out in an actual classroom setting.

A Districtwide Commitment to Bullying Prevention.  The Olweus™ Bullying Prevention Program developed by Communities Healing Adolescent Depression and Suicide (CHADS) is a whole-school program involving the individual student, classroom, school and community. The program incorporates an innovative wrap-around approach that includes not only the students directly involved in bullying, but bystanders, as well.

Student Handbooks.  Students and their families at every grade level are provided with a handbook at the beginning of each year that provides information about the expectations for student behavior. View student handbooks.

Beyond Disciplinary Measures

Beyond the disciplinary measures outlined in the policies, handbooks and other information linked above, the Ladue School District utilizes a number of other tactics for promoting appropriate student behavior and a school environment that feels safe and welcoming to all students.

Restorative Practices focus on creating a culture of connectivity where all students and staff feel they belong to a larger community where all can be successful and safe. Staff from all district schools have participated in the Restorative Practices Academy .

In addition, Ladue School District is one of the districts in the St. Louis area taking the lead on eliminating K-3 suspensions.  Implementing Restorative Practices plays a key role in making this change successful, by keeping children in the classroom where they can learn and feel part of a supportive community, while also helping them to correct inappropriate behaviors.

Peer mediation is also being used increasingly across the district, allowing students to settle their own disputes with the trained guidance of an adult.

Increasing the Diversity of Ladue Schools Staff

Ideally, the diversity of our student population would be reflected in the diversity of the Ladue Schools staff at all levels – administrators, teachers and support staff. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Recruiting at educational job fairs is helpful, but often doesn’t get to the best candidates early enough. As a result, the Ladue School District is investigating a number of “grow your own” initiatives that would assist us in identifying candidates early, getting them involved in our district well before graduation, and having an advantage in hiring them.

Staff Training and Support

Throughout every school year, extensive professional development time is dedicated to training and providing staff members at all levels with resources to enable them to participate in the district’s goal of ensuring that every student, every day feels safe and welcome in their classrooms and schools. This is not only important to their emotional well-being. Research has proven time and again that when students feel safe and supported, their ability to learn and succeed academically increases significantly.

Each school supports these efforts a little differently, depending upon their existing level of training, experience, the age of the children in their schools and their individual school’s characteristics.  In addition, the district also provides development opportunities for staff members at all levels.

For example, during the summer of 2017, 25 staff members at various levels attended the Institute on Racism, a week-long retreat focused on providing opportunities for reflection, self-discovery and practical training around diversity issues.  Dozens of Ladue Schools employees have attended the institute in previous years and all district administrators (30+ employees) are required to attend the Institute during the summers of 2017, 2018 or 2019.

In addition, a number of initiatives involve all staff at all levels.  For example:

  • As noted in the “Expectations in Our Schools” section above, the Ladue School District is committed to having The Olweus™ Bullying Prevention Program fully incorporated into our schools districtwide by the end of the 2017-18 school year.
  • Missouri House Bill 1583 was passed in 2016 and requires not only a change to school district policies statewide (See Bullying JFCF), but training in regard to preventing and reporting bullying for every employee at every level in every district. This training has now been incorporated into required professional development for every employee of the Ladue School District.
  • On the morning of Feb. 17, 2017, the entire Ladue Schools staff gathered for a morning of professional development on DEI. The day began with Dr. Terry Jones of the University of Missouri sharing a presentation regarding the history of racism in Missouri and St. Louis, which was followed by a discussion about implicit bias facilitated by Dr. Sarah Riss and Tony Neal of Educational Equity Consultants.
  • The District Diversity Committee, as well as the individual school diversity committees, also provide extensive support for staff, students and the district as a whole. Their contributions include identifying and providing access to resources, coordinating training, evaluating current programming and assisting with shaping the district’s future DEI plans.

Parents, Families and the Broader Community

The Ladue School District is a microcosm of our greater community and nation. As a result, we also need the support of those who do not spend the majority of their day in our schools, but still have a great impact on our students and school environment. Therefore, we are committed to proactively engaging with parents and the broader community and to creating opportunities for us all to work together in taking responsibility for creating a safe and welcoming school environment for all students.

Parent Participation and Involvement.  Parents are encouraged to get involved in their child’s education and the district’s beliefs and practices in this area are outlined in Board Policy IGBC: Parent/Family Involvement in Instructional and Other Programs.

In addition, parents are encouraged to get involved in their school parent associations and other individual school activities to the extent they are able so the experiences and opportunities provided to students through these associations and events are reflective of the desires and abilities of the entire school community.

In addition, all parents, but particularly those of color, are invited to C.U.R.E. meetings. C.U.R.E. stands for Community Understanding Respect Education and meets several times during the school year, along with district teachers and administrators, to district issues of particular interest to our minority families and students. To get notification of C.U.R.E. meetings, please email input@ladueschools.net.

Community Participation.  A number of opportunities for our broader community to participate in our DEI initiative are currently being planned and will soon be announced in various ways to our community. We also encourage you to check the calendar on the right of this page to see what activities are taking place in the district, and what opportunities are available to our families and broader stakeholders. To make sure you receive notification of these events, please sign up for e-News.

History of Diversity in the Ladue School District

While the Ladue School District is much more diverse than most people realize, the history of how we became such a culturally diverse community is also interesting an important. We encourage all stakeholders in our community to review the following:

Student Organizations

The following high school student organizations provide outlets for students to gather and discuss issues and opportunities regarding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. These clubs are available to all students to attend. Get more information about individual clubs, organizations and meetings.

  • Best Buddies. Pairs general education students with special education students to create friendships.
  • Club A.S.K. Builds awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities through sports activities.
  • Club Amigos del Español. Focuses on using the Spanish language for enrichment and cultural purposes and looks for ways to connect with the Hispanic community in St. Louis.
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Provides a safe environment for students to talk about their faith and sports.
  • Feminist Coalition of Ladue. Brings awareness to what feminism is about. Discusses issues around the school and community related to gender issues.
  • Gender and Sexuality Alliance. Promotes a safe environment for LGBTQ students and their straight allies.
  • Global Humanitarian Club. Increases cultural awareness through teaching about other cultures, organizing guest speakers and joining in events held by local cultural institutions.
  • Jewish Student Union. Teaches about and involves students in Jewish culture.
  • LAASA Ladue African-American Students. Provides venues for LHWHS African-American students to excel academically, celebrate heritage and culture, and develop leadership skills. Promotes social awareness, positive relationships, volunteering, mentoring and scholarship fundraising.
  • Ladue Amnesty International. Raises awareness about human rights violations.
  • Multicultural Club. Fosters multicultural understanding within the high school community.
  • Muslim Student Association. Teaches others about Islam and the foundations of the religion.
  • RISE. Provides academic and social support, as well as mentoring, for freshman and upperclassmen new to LHWHS.
  • Social Justice League of Ladue. Allows students to gain knowledge about social justice issues in a safe space where they can express and discuss their ideas and concerns.

Connecting with Other School Districts

Understanding we are simply a microcosm of our greater community, the Ladue School District seeks opportunities to connect with area school districts to share best practices, resources, experience and information. Examples include:

  • Each February, the Ladue School District sends a group of educators to the annual Educators for Social Justice conference. The conference allows districts to collaborate and share their work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
  • The Ladue School District is also in the beginning stages of collaborating with Mary Institute Country Day School (MICDS) and John Burroughs School, as well.
  • Each year, a group of middle school students participate in the MICDS Student Diversity Conference.