by ALEXANDRA RETTER 

 

Membership is now set for Winona Area Public Schools’ (WAPS) Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. The approval of DEI’s membership by the School Board follows the board dissolving the district’s prior equity committee this fall. 

School Board members approved at their December 2 meeting a list of members for DEI. Community members Meigen Bausman, Sharron Coleman, Kelly Fluharty, Jake Griggs, Marci Hitz, Heidi Monson, Theresa Rusert and Chong Sher Vang will serve on the committee. WAPS’ Special Education Director Sarah Knudsen and Winona Senior High School Principal Heather Fitzloff, as well as students Ruby Hetzel and Ella Skranka, will also be on DEI. 

School Board members Stephanie Smith, Steve Schild and Karl Sonneman composed DEI this fall and met several times prior to the community members, staff members and students receiving the School Board’s official OK. 

One part of the School Board members’ work was going over applications to serve on DEI. Initially, they appeared to plan to go over applications individually, then confer about them at DEI’s November 30 meeting. In a shift, Smith, Schild and Sonneman provided input on the selection process School Board Chair Nancy Denzer used, Sonneman said at the committee’s November 30 meeting. Denzer said at the board’s December 2 meeting that she received a packet each from Smith, Schild and Sonneman on November 30, and applicants were represented by a number. She then combined Smith, Schild and Sonneman’s feedback and used the same numbering system to make a recommendation for DEI’s membership to the full School Board, she said. 

In an interview, Schild said he received applications with identifying information such as names redacted. He did not rank applicants, he said. Rather, the sheet he received asked for comments to be made about the applications, he added. There appeared to be some confusion, he continued, as he believes Smith and Sonneman were asked to make recommendations. He reiterated at the School Board’s December 2 meeting that he was not asked to make recommendations. 

Schild returned his comments to the district office, and they were passed on to Denzer, he said in an interview. 

DEI will meet on December 14 at 6 p.m. at Winona Senior High School. The meeting is open to the public. 

Education@winonapost.com