SMUHSD holds town hall on racial representation among demands for diversity


Via the SMUHSD Youtube channel

BPA Board of Director Medina McKinney speaks about the history of the BPA in their town hall, “Unity in the Community” on Oct. 20.

Jacob Lubarsky, Copy Editor

On Oct. 20, the San Mateo Union High School District (SMUHSD) paired with the Black Parents Association (BPA) of SMUHSD to hold a virtual town hall called “Unity in the Community.” The hour-long Zoom call began with an introduction of the group and segued into a discussion about the need for diversity within the SMUHSD district. 

“[The BPA is] a volunteer parent’s association made up of a diverse group of parents/guardians, teachers, and friends of all ethnicities,” the SMUHSD website said. 

The meeting consisted of members from the SMUHSD Board of Trustees, as well as members of the BPA, including BPA Board Director, Medina McKinney. The town hall was moderated by the Director of the San Mateo Adult School, Angela Taylor.


The meeting went into depth about the diversity, and lack thereof, in the district, as well as discussing solutions to combat racial tensions in the community. The expansion of anti-bias and anti-racism training was once again reintroduced in the meeting, though the idea has been proposed to the SMUHSD Board in previous meetings. 


The BPA presented a slideshow, first starting with the impact African Americans have made within San Mateo County. They made it clear that African Americans are a severe minority both within the county and SMUHSD, reporting on their slideshow that as of 2010, only 2.4% of San Mateo County citizens were African American, and only .8% of students enrolled in the SMUHSD were African American.


After giving an explanation of their history, the BPA delved into their many goals for the school year. They proposed a plethora of implementations to diversify the classroom, hoping to incorporate more African American figures into all curriculums and work towards overall diversification of courses in the district mandated curriculum. This includes, but is not limited to, the district-wide implementation of ninth grade Ethnic Studies, as well as the addition of more Black authors in English curriculums. While the Board seemed to show support of these changes, Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected the proposal of Ethnic Studies becoming a high school requirement this month. This has set a roadblock for the SMUHSD and BPA’s shared goal of getting Ethnic Studies implemented in all SMUHSD schools.

Additionally, the BPA rallied for a push for further anti-bias training for both staff and students alike. They believe that all students should receive unconscious bias training, claiming that students are unknowingly racist, as they are unknowingly stereotyping their peers or different communities with ill-informed assumptions. The BPA also wishes to further diversify the staff, advocating for more Black teachers within the SMUHSD, noting that Black teachers make up a substantially small minority of staffers in the district. 


The final section of the town hall consisted of a 34-minute-long question and answer segment. The prolonged segment consisted of parents, teachers, students and staff posing concerns to the SMUHSD board, mostly grilling them on questions of diversity within the district. Though diversity has been a topic of discussion in previous meetings, members of the Board still provided thoughtful answers to many of the inquiries from members of the community. The town hall concluded with final statements from SMUHSD Board Vice President Robert Griffin and McKinney, thanking listeners for attending the event. The next meeting with the BPA is currently set for Jan. 12.