By Caderyn Delker
Last March, community members and Howard County administrators came together and began working on a committee dedicated to the revision of “Policy 1010”, HoCo’s current anti-discrimination policy. Policy 1010 contains all of Howard County’s procedures pertaining to harassment and discrimination within our schools. Previously, Policy 1010 lacked specific language to protect students from discrimination on the basis of immigration status or gender identity.
At each meeting, committee members carefully combed through Policy 1010, making edits, broadening its applications, and taking pointers from other counties’ policies in order to revise and improve our own. Membership consists of carefully recommended student representatives, parents, and teachers from all over the county.
Dr. Gina Massella, Director of Shared Accountability and Director of High Schools, believes the committee is “making considerable efforts to hear what the community is saying about important issues.” Many of the changes to the policy are simple edits in order to use more inclusive language, but others are more substantial, such as one revision that will require administration to act on reports of discrimination/harassment within one school day of the report’s submission.
Dr. Massella also expressed that she hopes “students will feel empowered to be who they are and that more students will feel a sense of community” in response to the changes being made. Dr. Massella emphasized that “there are clear procedures in place to protect students from discrimination. Students must know the steps involved to advocate for a safe environment for all students and the larger HCPSS community.”