First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Though COVID-19 vaccines were at the center of discussion among stakeholders during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, the Burbank Unified School District reminded the community that it remains hard at work in implementing its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative.
The district announced that one of many of its goals was achieved on Thursday with the hiring of Stefani McCoy, who will serve as the BUSD DEI consultant and coordinator. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the hiring, which board member Emily Weisberg called an “exciting step.”
McCoy is no stranger to Burbank, having attended George Washington Elementary School, Luther Burbank Middle School and John Burroughs High School. She earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in sales and marketing from DeVry University and a master’s degree in global affairs, with specialization in international development and humanitarian assistance, at New York University.
“I’m really excited to be part of the district,” said McCoy. “Coming back to my alma mater and making real structural changes is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Superintendent Matt Hill said McCoy will be essential to the effort of connecting district leaders with students.
“Working with those student leaders to [determine] what’s the best way to connect and hear all student voices on campus — they have that insight in the best way to do that,” Hill said of the process.
Nadra Ostrom, a Burbank parent who is also a member of the DEI committee, voiced support for the move.
“I believe that she is a great fit to work on the issues that we’ve started working on in the district,” she said. “I’m appreciative of the work that we’ve done so far. We still have a lot of work to do.”
Ostrom and another resident asked that the district acquire additional textbooks that provide more diverse perspectives, especially those of indigenous people.
Hill said that he would like that too, and that the district will work to “have more diverse and inclusive materials embedded in our curriculum and our schools.”
In his monthly DEI update, Hill said the employee resource group has created subgroups to define DEI for district stakeholders. The BUSD has also participated in professional development offered by the California Teachers Association regarding unconscious bias, as well as training from Facing History and Ourselves, a nonprofit organization that says its mission is to “use lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate.”
The committee, which also receives input from students and parents, is working on reviewing instructional materials based on administrative regulations.
Hill noted that anyone interested in the BUSD’s work can visit burbankusd.org/dei.