Vigo County Schools creates diversity department, looks at international residency program

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – Vigo County School board approves new efforts for diversity and inclusion.

After recent work sessions, Vigo County Schools superintendent Dr. Rob Haworth, says data showed the school corporation could improve the areas of diversity, civility, and inclusion.

“We provided data that demonstrated that in our hiring practices, we identified data within our suspensions and expulsions rates that there is room for improvements,” Haworth said.

This week, the Vigo County School Board approved a measure to create a civility, diversity, and inclusion department, with intentions to later hire a director.

According to Haworth, this department could assist in areas such as the hiring process.

“When you think about our student population, ideally, our employees should look like our students that we’re serving,” Haworth said.

In addition to creating a new department, members of the school board also hope to start an international residency program.

The program would allow high school students from various countries to continue their education in Vigo County, using an F-1 visa.

“It would be like a boarding school situation, where they would have like a dormitory living arrangement,” said Jackie Lower, Vigo County School Board president.

A similar program was started in Kokomo in 2012, which school staff have looked at.

According to Lower, students in Kokomo’s program pay tuition of between $20,000 to $25,000 dollars, which creates not only a cultural experience but also revenue.

“It’s been very fortunate financially for the Kokomo School District and so we’re trying to be fiscally imaginative in bringing in ideas that would help us,” Lower said.

Lower says when created, the international residency program would also help fund their diversity department.

There is no set timetable for the international residency to begin.

Both Haworth and Lower mentioned that it could be implemented by the beginning of next school year.

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