March 3, 2020

Avery Parents for Racial Equity

March 3, 2020

Avery Library


Those in attendance: Lorraine Cooper, Vedia Brackens, Mary Washington, Lindsay Brand, Gayle Flavin, Rochelle Henderson, Christine Keller, Gwen Pierce, Ingrid Deetz, Amy Estlund, Kevin Starks, Allen Todd, Mary Robinson, LaTonya Robinson, Julia Maki, Danna Lippold, Nytasha Taylor, Elisa Tomich


Notes from the Avery Equity Meeting:

Most of the meeting was open dialogue amongst the group. Thank you for all who participated and came out.  We look forward to seeing everyone again.


Concerns were expressed about district plans to make Givens a neighborhood school and include all of North Webster in its attendance zone. Some said this feels like school segregation all over again. The burden of the of redistricting would be placed on the same community, they felt, but in a different way. One woman asked why Shrewsbury can’t have its own school.

Kids Perception:

A few expressed concern that since Givens will have most of the district’s African American students, it will be in their head that they are not good enough when they get to middle and high school.

Many who spoke expressed decades of hurt. When Douglass was an elementary school and had plenty of room to accommodate all the kids and white parents didn’t want their kids there, Douglass was closed.  Now Webster Groves schools need more room. Black families in North Webster say they’re feeling the brunt of accommodating everyone else. 

Students from the voluntary interdistrict desegregation program are still attending WG schools. One parent asked why they get to stay if our schools are overcrowded. Christine Keller, a member of the school board, explained that deseg is ending for new entrants but current students can remain in the district.

There were questions/concerns about where the lines have been drawn: how did the district come up with the lines and why were they drawn in this way.

LaTonya Robinson, who works as a crossing guard at Kirkham and Marshall, is worried her job will be in jeopardy. Not just Avery kids are crossing at Brentwood. Many children are crossing at Brentwood.

A parent of an 8-year-old Avery student expressed that her daughter cried about not wanting to separate from her classmates. Dr. Starks and Christine explained that students in elementary school now may remain even after redistricting. How are they going to feel when they get to middle school, she asked.  How will the curriculum change, as well as Black History Month, if schools don’t end up with many or any black kids?

Taxes :  North Webster pays taxes and has the same rules/laws etc but are treated differently, residents said.

In North Webster we take care of one another.  Generations of people have lived here just like in other parts of Webster and we are not even considered, they said.

Dr. Starks provided information that Steger will be the home school for the staff kids in response to letting a question about letting Givins/Steger curriculum go down the drain. 

Allen Todd, a candidate for the school board, told the group that equity is something he's passtionate about. It's one of his campaign priorities.  

Before the meeting wrapped up, Elisa and Tasha provided an update on Beach Bingo, planned for March 27. A working group was formed to plan it – Julia Maki, Mary Robinson, Ingrid Deetz, Tasha, Elisa, and Danna Lippold. The next Avery Parents for Racial Equity meeting will be April 3 in the Avery library.