Camas Schools Drafting a New Equity Policy to Address Race, Prejudice issues


Camas, WA — At Tuesday’s Camas School Board meeting, supporters of the district’s Equity Policy, which is currently being drafted, spoke passionately about the need to improve relationships in Camas schools, and to ensure all students feel welcome in the classroom.

“We have to ask ourselves and look at the demographics and see are outcomes proportional to the demographic?” said Hayes Freedom High School teacher, and Camas Education Association Lead negotiator, Mark Gardner. “And so if a segment of our population is not represented in roughly the same segment of an outcome there’s a suggestion that we have some systemic issue. When our special education students and Hispanic males are excluded at double the rate that really got me thinking. I realized that equity begins with teacher practice so I encourage you to adopt this policy, and then to hold our staff accountable for what we do as professionals …”

CSD has had a focus on serving each student as part of their 2020 Strategic Plan, and CSD Superintendent Jeff Snell said “it’s become clear that we have students that are not being served as well as they should.  We launched an equity committee to better understand what’s happening in order to ensure we are serving each student.”

Veronica Copeland, a longtime school volunteer, spoke passionately about racism in Camas schools, and said she’s being forced to move to a place “because they (her daughters) don’t have women to look up to here.”


Hayes Freedom teacher and CEA lead negotiator, Mark Gardner, talks about racial issues in Camas.

“This community has its issues, of course, and I have faced it in my own house,” said Copeland, an African-American woman. “Let alone my girls facing it, but they’re at this age where they notice people’s color and race. I appreciate the teachers, they make the girls feel loved and supported. I knew my girls would need a guard around them, I knew they would need someone to always make sure someone listened to them, watched for them, and they’re twins, and they look very much alike, and (the teachers) know it’s important they can tell them apart because they are not the same person, and that right there is equity. I have twin girls who are not identical, they’re just Black, and they look alike, and everyone thinks they are identical, and it ends up giving them a complex …”

“I have told many parents about this equity policy and I’ve gotten more “why” and to know that I’m moving because my girls don’t have equity somewhere is sad, and I love you guys.”

Snell said the driver of the Equity Policy is to ensure each student feels welcome and supported in Camas schools.

“Experiences like Ms. Copeland described in our schools and community are not acceptable,” said Snell. “Community members are passionate about moving forward with language that describes what welcome and supported means.”

Snell said the aim of equity work in CSD is to facilitate paradigm, practice and policy shifts so that every student is seen, respected, and celebrated in a way that promotes love of self and love of learning.


  • Share common language, definitions, and general approach regarding equity work in Camas School District
  • Facilitate opportunities to hear from stakeholders regarding their hopes and concerns with respect to equity in order to shape the work
  • Conduct opportunities for stakeholders to learn together with respect to equity
  • Provide concrete strategies and recommendations for stakeholders to use in order to eliminate oppression, marginalization, and predictable disparity

“The equity policy was an action items from the committee,” said Snell. “We will have the policy ready for board review at the November 26 School Board meeting.”

Budget Woes

CSD is also holding a budget process workshop on November 26 to address ways to overcome the district’s $3.2 million deficit problem. It’s a deficit that Gardner, who as the lead union negotiator during the bargaining sessions, said was “a scare tactic by the District.”

The deficit is a reality now.


Addressing the Camas School Board.

6 replies
  1. Beau Martin
    Beau Martin says:

    If we’re going to start managing outcomes by race, are we going to also ensure that the magnet program is 77% Caucasian, not 50% Asian? Are we going to make sure no more than 1% of the kids on our athletic teams are black since that’s their proportion in the population?

    Shouldn’t we prefer each kid gets opportunities and are given every chance to succeed or to fail based on the content of their character and the quality of their skills, not the color of their skin? The same with adults? Or should we go back into a racially divided past where one group obtains racially biased privilege as the legal outcome of the system? That’s where these racists are headed and it sounds like they’re planning on achieving their objective later this month.

    What we see here is a parent seeking racial privilege for herself and her children and an organized labor boss seeking additional hires for his union payrolls collaborating together to support a racist movement calling for creating and then escalating race tensions and provide racially-based benefits and set-asides, when we don’t need our schools, or our communities, divided.

    They’re also using socially-engineered language to try to get those benefits. While the term ‘equity’ sounds like ‘equality,’ that’s not what it means. What it really means is ‘ownership,’ like ‘Return on Equity,’ or ‘home equity.’ If they meant equality for our children, that’s the word they would use. They don’t. They mean special privilege in hiring, promotion, and educational opportunity. As one writer puts it, “Equity means not just that everyone is equal under the law; it signifies a leveling of the playing field.’ ( Not just equal is, of course, a lie. Equity doesn’t mean equal, it means unequal, the allocation of rights to privileged classes, like racial minorities in this case.

    Today, with equal treatment, no kid is denied opportunity based upon their ethnic or national origin, and neither are adults. That’s the law of the land already, today. What these two want are racial preferences, including hiring and educational opportunities, and they want them at your and your children’s expense.

    African Americans make up 1% of the population here in Camas and across Clark County, they’re just 2% of the population. That 1% – 2% racial minority wants to exclude you from the jobs, educational, leadership, and even contracting opportunities, and they want your school board to do their bidding in obtaining these undeserved special rights.

    How long until they bring in or promote teachers based on race before extending any offers to white teachers? Having some familiarity with the schools here, I know there are a few great substitute teachers. One is Mr. Ross McCloud, a middle-aged white male. How long until he finds himself entirely unemployed due to racial biases? More broadly, how long until schools are not able to bring in the teachers, substitutes, and other staff they believe will best do the job? I grew up in the south where we’ve had systems like this for at least two generations now. Do you want to turn our school district into a dysfunctional one, like the ones down there, where students can barely read or write when they graduate? That’s what ‘equity’ means.

    While there was apparently a community member or two at the last board meeting, achieving racial advancement for minorities is not an issue the community cares about, or for that matter supports. What we support is equal opportunity, not equity.

    As for those individuals that support equity, they need government support because their intent is to shift from equal consideration to racially biased ‘equity,’ that is to transfer rights held broadly by members of the community, that is your rights and opportunities, as well as those of your children, to their supporters, for their benefit, while excluding you and your loved ones.

    Bottom line, the board needs to issue a firm ‘no’ and declare we’re going forward and using equal consideration, not equity, as our standard. As a city, we’re not going to move into the past, we’re not going back to the days of racial discrimination or even Jim Crowe.

    In practice, racial preferences and set-asides are what have become of “the Dream” now that people have been called on to compete on the content of their character. Please, ask these racists what happened to “the Dream”?

    Despite whatever impassioned pleas That she suggests this is preposterous.

    Despite her seeming desire to fight a race war in her own mind, Copeland’s girls do not “need a guard around them.” The suggestion is preposterous. Camas is not Little Rock in 1957.

    We’re a decade past the election an African American president, and our legislative bodies are full of minorities. In fact, our own Congressional district is represented by a woman minority.

    Race, for some, has become a gravy train, not a long-forgotten remnant of the past. Let’s not create problems where they do not exist.

    I also want to point out that despite our living in a district represented by a minority Congresswoman, Copeland’s statements about how there are no women in Camas to whom her children can look up was fundamentally racist. It was also denigrating and dismissive of the other women that live here. All Copeland seems able to see is race. I don’t know, maybe she’s living in an Ebony/BET dominated world. For the rest of us, we respect people without regard to color and expect others to do the same.

    Camas is a content of their character type world. It’s not time to go backward to a world of racial bias.

  2. Kevin Sudbeck
    Kevin Sudbeck says:

    I have to agree with Beau. An Equity Policy is not needed or in my family’s case wanted. My younger son is Hispanic, he did not encounter any issues while at Camas High School and participated in STEM AP courses, plus Football and Track. My younger daughter is black. She encountered a bully her freshman year at Hayes Freedom. But the situation was adequately addressed by the staff and she has enjoyed her time there since. She is a now a junior on ASB and has not experienced any issues and finds the school enjoyable. My daughter routinely walks home from school without incident. A friend is a Camas Police Officr who mentions to us when he sees our daughter walking home, as they patrol that area after school lets out to ensure our kid’s safety. This much ado about nothing.

  3. Kevin Sudbeck
    Kevin Sudbeck says:

    Also, if this is such an issue. Why hasn’t Mark Gardner or Hayes Freedom HS notified the parents of Black Children of this risk to our children? We have received no such notifications. Time to call Hayes Freedom HS and CSD.

  4. Heather Wynn
    Heather Wynn says:

    Beau said it quite well! To add my own thoughts…each and every person can CHOOSE to live where they are most comfortable and feel at home. If more African Americans want to move to Camas, I don’t see anyone stopping them. That should be evident by the amount of Asians in our District. Those who choose to live here and pay our tax base, our home prices etc are here for our own reasons, one of the BIGGEST being the great schools! I feel the world and everyone should be hired, promoted, and given opportunities solely based on their hard work and achievements…but the swing has gone too far the other way from days of old. Case in point, a white male is more qualified for the open position, but the runner up is a black female…who gets the job? I am guessing at the stats but I am going to say 9/10 times the black female gets it so the Company can “fill” their minority’s #’s… instead of the MOST qualified. And what about scholarships to College??? My white son will not qualify for any minority scholarships, and it would be “racist” if there were “white-boy only” scholarships! The world should not see race, color, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, hobbies (you get the point). No one person is “better” than another…more qualified yes, better no. No one person is more “deserving”(without personal merit) than another. I have deep feelings for those who have special needs, they are beautiful and lively in their individual ways. I lived in a State that was great at supporting and offering programs and developmental opportunities for “special needs” individuals. I had no issues with these opportunities but DO feel it should NOT replace parent involvement and support. To say “my child deserves more” simply because they are a particular color/gender/etc is hypocritical to the movement “all equal -Humankind”. I will end with this, as much as my Mother tried to make things “fair” for my brothers and sisters and I, her most commonly used statement was “life’s or fair!”?

  5. Rosemarie Treece
    Rosemarie Treece says:

    Oh, my! I hardly know where to begin to address these neighbors who feel so strongly about this issue. Let me just say that there has been racial tension in Camas schools as long as we have lived here (since 1995), and Mr. Martin should speak only for himself and what he believes, not for “this community.” Diversity rarely happens without an impetus for change. Quotas have proven not to be the answer, but support of diversity can be accomplished by other means and should be a desired outcome in hiring and recruitment. A good start would be to make sure our publications, web sites, and PR releases are inclusive and reflect a desire to have a diverse community. Then again, we didn’t really pay educators enough to buy homes in our community until recently, so perhaps change will come.


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