Viewpoint: On equity and inclusion at CUSD

by Tara Neemuchwala

The debate over equity and inclusion is at the forefront in many school districts across the nation. So, how is Claremont Unified School District addressing these issues?

With the work of its Equity Advisory Council, CUSD is receiving valuable public input to better serve the community. The EAC is a citizen-led body that aims to address the pressing issues of inequity within CUSD.

Though recent developments have prompted a reexamination of how we address equity within our communities and public school districts, CUSD has been mindful of the importance of equity for some time. Natalie Taylor, the district’s director of educational services, explained: “In 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, our school board wanted to respond with more than just a statement of solidarity with the Black community, and they committed to a deep dive into racial equity work. They formed a yearlong, board appointed committee of folks called the district advisory committee on racial equity, and because the members of the advisory board were appointed by the Board of Education, there were restrictions regarding the length of time the committee could serve for.”

The committee had open meetings, and an outside consultant who facilitated them. It dived headlong into these thorny issues and devised solutions. When it disbanded due to its time limitations, the group continued working, forming a council of volunteers with a deep passion for equity, the Equity Advisory Council.

“We learned that a board appointed committee did not include all the voices of people that we needed to hear from,” Taylor said. “We knew that there was a recommendation to keep a committee, council or some sort of group going to advise the governing board. We also knew that we wanted to find a different structure that allowed anybody who was interested in this work to come to the table, ensuring representation from many groups of people. The new committee did not need to be one that was formed by appointments. We really wanted it to be more organic and inclusive of the folks invested in doing this equity work.”

The Equity Advisory Council includes students, parents, and representatives from school sites, and CUSD. Membership is fluid, with the council growing and evolving as members’ ability to serve fluctuates. Its meetings are open to the public, and community input is encouraged.

Thus far the EAC has crafted a 2024-2027 plan to help CUSD provide resources to students. It helped shaped the CUSD Equity Action Plan, which was recently approved by the Board of Education. “The EAC’s recommendations and updates have an impact on the school board’s decisions,” said CUSD Superintendent Jim Elsasser. “Their input helps shape budget allocations, the establishment of new goals, and the criteria for evaluating progress. While the city and district are two separate entities, the EAC’s work fosters collaboration with educational partners and ensures community voices are represented in our decision-making processes.”

Each member of the Equity Advisory Council brings their lived experiences and ideas to the table, working together to advise the Board of Education, working diligently to create a space where each child can thrive within CUSD and beyond.

For more information, go to and search “Equity Advisory Council.”

Tara Neemuchwala is a rising sophomore at Claremont High School with a deep interest in all forms of creative expression and learning.


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