Williamson County schools seek diversity plan after parents share claims of student discrimination

Rutland family
Posted at 5:09 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 21:46:03-05

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Williamson County School district is developing a diversity and inclusion plan to help stomp out racism in the classroom.

Becky Rutland and Leslianna Garlington have black and white children in Williamson County Schools.

"I feel like we’re in a predominantly white area," Rutland said, "and my kids are definitely the minority. There’s not a lot of representation, meaning that my children don’t go to school and see teachers and staff members that look like them."

She's heard about several racist incidents that went unreported. Rutland said, "Some of it is blatantly ugly and intentional, and some of it is more subtle."A petition was started last year by a graduate demanding the district create an environment where students feel safe reporting them. It’s been signed thousands of times.

Rutland wants to form a new parent advisory committee to help. "So they can speak directly to the district about the needs," Rutland said.

Garlington wants the community to come to the table to discuss racism. She tried to provide insight on a social media forum recently where some parents were mad that the district might be introducing a black history class. "I'm not asking anyone to believe the same thing that I do, but what our country was founded on was slavery," Garlington said, "And to hear about that and learn about that, it’s very often looked over in history. It’s a very small blurb, so it’s very concerning that there is a push back."

In a YouTube video, superintendent Jason Golden said he wants to hire a company to help them create a diversity plan. Golden said, "It doesn’t matter how many policies you write, if you don’t take action."

An anonymous Instagram account was started where students write about the times they've been discriminated against at a Williamson County School. That’s one reason why Rutland and Garlington are going to continue speaking out against racism at school. Garlington said, "It is sad that children feel that their voices are not heard."

The Williamson County Superintendent plans to introduce some of his diversity ideas to the school board next month.