Audit recommends Manual improve inclusivity


Piper Hansen

This is a developing story, and the Manual RedEye staff will continue to update this story as we confirm more details.

Manual should examine its commitment to diversity and equity, and address a lack of accommodation for minority groups, including “immigrant students, students with disabilities, students of color, and LGBTQ youth,” according to a culture and climate audit that RedEye reporters obtained via open records request.

Millennium Learning Concepts (MLC), led by Dr. Roger Cleveland, conducted the audit in November 2017.

The district selected Manual for the audit soon after controversy involving Principal Jerry Mayes first received public attention.

Representatives from MLC randomly pulled students out of class, reviewed student work, spoke with teachers and administrators and reached out to parents in order to evaluate three key growth areas for improvement: “school culture-climate/safe and orderly environment,” “sense of belonging” and “equity and access.”

The report states that “the overall Manual High School culture supports the social growth and development for learners, but demonstrates gaps and problems for many individuals and subgroups within a diverse student population.”

MLC recommended that Manual re-examine its school vision and continue staff participation in diversity training through the University of Louisville. They also suggested that Manual “leadership should work to restore and maintain trust.”

The report did not recommend specific changes to school policies.

MLC consultants reported that “school rules, practices, and procedures attempt to foster acceptance of individuals, but based on school interviews, some students and staff demonstrate a lack of belonging or appear to be marginalized within the learning community.”

They advised that Manual work to build a community accounting for all stakeholders and one that promotes inclusion and acceptance.

The report also states that while instructional planning and student work are exemplary, Manual did not provide strategies to address persistent achievement gaps.

The report also indicated that there were stressors on students deriving from the school environment.

Interviews with parents and teachers revealed that “there is a strong focus on learning and high expectations” and “students are under a lot of pressure to excel.”

Through interviews, MLC found that students are “driven” within their magnets and fields of interest. The organization described that this momentum created “an individualistic viewpoint” that caters to unhealthy competition among students.

While teachers believed that students have equal access to joining clubs and being a part of the Manual community, parents believed that achievement gaps in the school are difficult to close because students are often guiding themselves to learn content.

MLC closed their report by explaining that Manual’s “strategies for improving the environments that impacts student achievement must be developed, implemented, monitored and refined.”

“A larger independent review of duPont Manual is still ongoing,” said Allison Martin, JCPS Chief Communications and Community Officer.

Assistant Principal Craig Klingenfus told reporters that he would not be commenting on the audit, and Principal Jerry Mayes was unavailable to comment when reporters were working on the story.