HISD makes changes for more inclusivity at board meetings: 'Should've happened a long time ago'

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Thursday, August 25, 2022
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The largest school district in Texas is making inclusivity changes to reach every student and parent.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, and now the state's largest school district, Houston Independent School District, is working to reach every student and parent.

Data from HISD officials show that 62% of the student body is Hispanic, many of whom speak a different language at home.

As the new school year is underway at Houston ISD, changes toward more inclusivity are being made.

American Sign Language and Spanish interpreters are being provided for the first time in the district to make school board meetings more accessible to families across our area.

"It really should've happened a long time ago," HISD Board of Trustees President Judith Cruz said.

Cruz is one of the reasons we're seeing changes in the district.

"I hope that having this simultaneous interpretation doesn't just allow accessibility, but it actually creates an avenue for advocacy for a parent voice that has long been - they haven't had a voice in this district because they speak another language," Cruz said.

The school district's chief engagement officer, Max Moll, told ABC13 the program is launching thanks to federal funds. He said the interpreters aren't district employees. Instead, they're contracted. Moll says this is a step in the right direction to provide more transparency as a district.

"I think it's created a hurdle for a lot of families to engage to not be able to understand what's being said or what is being done just because the language isn't accessible to them," Moll said.

But why now?

"It really should've happened a long time ago. And it was something we talked about in 2020, and because we were revisiting our board meeting policy, it was kind of the perfect time to make that adjustment," Cruz said.

The focus is that the program is here now and they're looking to keep growing it in weeks to come with closed captioning and a Spanish news channel.

The hope from district leaders is to eventually expand the accessibility further to other languages down the line based on the demands of families in our community.

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