San Marcos CISD audit: Racism not being reported, dropouts trending upward

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Equity audit survey results from the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District revealed racism isn’t being reported and dropouts are trending upward, among other things.

It also found chronic absences have dropped over the years, but not for all student groups. According to results, middle school has a higher percentage of students being disciplined compared to enrollment numbers.

San Marcos CISD audit findings
San Marcos CISD audit findings

Data was collected from the past three school years.

SMCISD took it upon itself to pay a third party to complete the audit, emphasizing it wanted to know what areas need improvement, so it can be the most equitable district possible.

According to the district’s Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations Andrew Fernandez, this is just one phase of the audit. Not all campuses were surveyed yet. These initial results came from:

  • Hernandez Elementary
  • Crockett Elementary
  • Mendez Elementary
  • Miller Middle School
  • Goodnight Middle School
  • San Marcos High School

Fernandez said in the next phase, more campuses will be surveyed. It is worth noting, according to auditors, the majority of the responses from the “racial climate survey” came from Miller Middle School, with 57% of its student population responding. Close to 1,200 students responded to the racial climate survey.

Whether you see it or not, racism in schools is happening. 

“The n-word twice, and last year, a student was referring to [my son] as a brownie,” Jerrell Turner, a SMCISD parent, said.

Turner said these separate incidents happened to his middle schooler Jeremiah.

“It’s just surprising, because no one has ever called me that before,” Jeremiah said.

The equity audit revealed on some campuses, 84% of students said they’ve heard peers using racial putdowns. 27% said they’ve heard one from an adult on campus.

SMCISD audit results for the racial climate survey
SMCISD audit results for the racial climate survey

80% of respondents said they’re not reporting incidents.

SMCISD audit results for the racial climate survey
SMCISD audit results for the racial climate survey

“It’s not surprising, but of course — it is concerning,” Turner said.

With Jeremiah’s incidents, Turner said the principal called him right away and took immediate action. But Jeremiah goes to Dezavala Middle, a school not yet surveyed.

“I feel strongly that it’s happening districtwide, because we’ve all dealt with it,” Turner said.

Fernandez said now that they can better identify what’s happening, they’re planning on taking an aggressive approach to make changes.

“One racial comment is one too many,” Fernandez said. “So, for us, we’re creating different protocols so that students, staff and families are able to report those things.”

Fernandez said this summer, they’ll look at ways to make reporting easier and are looking forward to making improvements based on the survey results. 

“If there’s a racial comment being said by students, staff, anyone in our district, we want to take care of it as soon as possible, because we want to provide a safe learning environment for all students,” Fernandez said.

Turner said he hopes students and staff begin to feel more comfortable speaking up.

“It’s important, because if nobody speaks up then nobody knows what’s really going on,” Turner said.

The auditors recommended all school leaders be enrolled in the Anti-Racist Leadership Institute to better learn about and deal with racism. It made a number of other recommendations for areas of concern as well, listed below.

Recommendations from auditors for SMCISD
Recommendations from auditors for SMCISD

Auditors also recommended redoing the racial climate survey as the district sees enrollment numbers and demographics change. More equity data is expected to be collected over the next few years, according to SMCISD.

You can view the full equity audit presentation here.

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