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MUSD Board of Trustees Approves the Student Bill of Rights


By Frédéric Martin, Editor-in-Chief

UNDER THE PROACTIVE supervision of Madera Unified School District Students Services Director Alyson Crafton, and with support from Dr. Marcheta Williams, and other 23 additional district staff, Dr. Rebecca Malmo, and Superintendent Lile, students in the Madera Unified School District have authored a Student Bill of Rights that will bind shared responsibilities of students and their school district to a set of shared values that will explicitly govern the school district once adopted. Some of the main actors in the process were Student Trustees Kiyana Granados and Jeremiah Goodman, interviewed for this article, as well as Giovanni Prudente, President of Madera High School’s Associated Student Body (ASB). Other students from 6th through 12th grade, selected by school site leaders, based on the children’s leadership skills and abilities to clearly express their thoughts, were also invited into the process, ending with a team of dozens of volunteers who committed to dedicating many hours to collaborate on the creation of the document via weekly virtual meetings scheduled over many months. Many contributors went into the process of writing the bill, with the central concern that the students’ voices be fully heard and incorporated into every aspect of the process, while being gently guided by responsible and committed adult leaders.

The project was launched at the end of the summer of 2020 and culminated with a presentation of a carefully crafted document for an adoption vote at the March 2021 MUSD board meeting. The core values, listed in the Student Bill of Rights, revolve around providing an educational environment that embraces equity, respect, and inclusion, while delivering a culturally relevant education in a school district free of any form of discrimination, bigotry, and bullying, specifically regarding race, creed, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other social categorizations. When asked about the resolution format of the end product, Crafton indicated that the document was written in such a way “to elevate the students’ voices into a proclamation that would guide future policies.”

As Student Trustee Jeremiah Goodman noted, the document had many hands in it, “so every participant’s voice and input were included into the process.” The project was quite ambitious in scope, involving an initial team of over 100 people that eventually dwindled down to a core team of 53 willing students, in addition to the 25 adult facilitators, who saw the project through. Goodman’s take on the choice of a resolution format was meant “to formalize its intentions and to withstand the test of time.” The document is designed as the basis for the creation of future policies that will help implement and carry out its mission. Trustee Kiyanna Granados indicated that the final draft of the document was also presented to a Student Voice meeting, to expose current students to the document, further gather student input to be incorporated into the draft, and eventually obtain approval from the project’s stakeholders. Giovanni Prudente expressed that the main challenge for him, and for the team, was to find a way to simplify and condense the students’ ideas into a structural format that would end up creating a document to be accepted by the current MUSD Board.

On March 23, 2021, the Student Bill of Rights was presented to the MUSD board for a vote. A few board members indicated that the document seemed one-sided with a strong preference for the students, however, Superintendent Lile noted that all the rights listed in the Bill are already covered in current federal, state, and school district regulations, and do not introduce any new rights the students already enjoy.

What the Student Bill of Rights introduces is a new awareness of the student body, and an explicit buy-in that may not have been present before the exercise. The Student Bill of Rights also formalizes existing rights into a published and structured document which the students can study, and which can be distributed to MUSD staff and students, as a functional summary of shared responsibilities and shared goals. At the end of the pre-recorded student presentation of the document, and a fruitful discussion during the virtual monthly meeting, the board voted unanimously to adopt the document, by a 6-0 vote with one absent trustee, thereby injecting the document into the DNA of the Madera Unified School District. The newly officialized document will be framed and featured in the MUSD boardroom, sent to all school sites, and actively integrated into the district’s hiring and onboarding processes, to purposefully expose teachers, staff, and students to all the shared responsibilities the document spells out.

The three student leaders interviewed for this article expressed their pride in having been given the opportunity to represent their peers and were grateful for having been included in the collaborative experience of shaping the foundational document, and for seeing it through to adoption, in their last weeks in Madera, as they all will soon graduate out of the school district, whose student body they lovingly represented in their senior year. Next fall, Student Trustee Jeremiah Goodman will study computer science at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA; Student Trustee Kiyana Granados will head to Baton Rouge’s Louisiana State University to study towards her goal to become a Clinical Psychologist; ASB President Giovanni Prudente will be studying Health and Public Health Administration at UCLA. MUSD thanks them for their invaluable contribution and wishes them Godspeed on their educational journey.

Resolution No. 32- 2021/21
Madera Unified School District Student Bill of Rights

WHEREAS, students have the right to have a socially, emotionally, and physically safe positive school environment; defined as 

  1. a freedom to experience a “safe and inclusive campus; with adults who are committed to protecting and serving all students”; and
  2. a positive learning environment that is welcoming; and
  3. empowers students to have confidence in their identities; and
  4. shows compassion in making mistakes free from ridicule; and
  5. have administrators who are consistent and approachable; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to be treated with respect and valued by the school community; defined as

  • to be treated fairly regardless of religion, race, national origin, or disability, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation); and
  • to attend schools that are free from bullying by students and by adults; and
  • to be treated according to their maturity, competency and with compassion; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to inclusive teaching and learning environments in our classrooms; defined as

  • classrooms that feel safe, respectful and welcoming, where everyone can learn; and
  • learning opportunities tailored to our individual needs; and
  • teachers who care about all students and all means all; and
  • Teachers who value our educational progress and us as human beings; and
  • students need to see themselves in our schools through challenging and culturally relevant learning; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to effective teachers that are both knowledgeable and supportive; defined as

  • individuals who know their content and use various teaching strategies that contribute to a greater understanding; and
  • understand that learning starts with relationships; and
  • make learning active and visible; and
  • are servant leaders who accept feedback from their students; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to equitable quality education, that prepares them for life beyond high school; defined as

  • providing instruction that lends itself to differentiation, feedback and re-teaching for proof of mastery and
  • ensures teacher’s skills align with students’ needs; and
  • ensures accessibility to the fullest range of rigorous academic classes to all students; and
  • provides real life learning opportunities with the widest array of post-secondary options, with the greatest number of choices around College and Career and equity in access to modern technology to support adulthood success; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to Freedom of Expression within an educational context that has clear guidelines and expectations; defined as

  • allowing students to exercise our First Amendment rights through various forms and mediums; and
  • informing students of these opportunities through a variety of means; and
  • providing clear expectations and guidance; and
  • providing a defined platform to report violations of student rights without fear of retribution or dismissal of the concern; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to equitable school disciplinary policies and practices that focus on correction not punishment; defined as

  • ensuring due process is implemented at every level of infraction; and
  • schools adopt positive forms of discipline, aimed at addressing the cause of the behavior and providing an opportunity for students to grow from their mistakes; and
  • focusing on the resolution of conflict and restoration of all relationships involved to the extent that is possible; and
  • schools refraining from use of stereotypes, unwarranted attention, and personal interactions that result in mistrust; and
  • focusing on bringing the students back into the school community in a positive manner; and

WHEREAS, students have the right to shape decisions that affect our education; defined as

  • formalizing opportunities with school board members, district administration, school administration and with our teachers on a regular, scheduled basis because student voice counts:

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Madera Unified School Board of Trustees hereby proclaims and recognizes on this 23rd Day of March, 2021, that the above mentioned rights be declared as a right of every student within Madera Unified School District.


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