Photo courtesy of the DOE and WXY Studios

The Department of Education recently revealed the organization in charge of creating District 28’s new diversity plan.

The southeastern district, which stretches from Rego Park and Forest Hills down to Jamaica and South Ozone Park, is one of the first recipients of funding to kickstart a program that would help engage the community in creating a diversity plan. 

To facilitate the task, DOE chose WXY Studios, a multidisciplinary design firm that has been involved in projects from designing loading zones for electric trucks to the Rockaway Boardwalk after destruction of Hurricane Sandy.

The process did hit an unexpected bump in the road around the same time, the WXY set up a new informational website on the project though. Mabel Muñiz-Sarduy, who originally applied for the diversity plan funding, took on a role as Queens North Executive Superintendent at the beginning of this week, leaving uncertainty about who will be guiding the project.

The firm was also in charge of the city’s first diversity plan in District 15. The website it created for the project contains a timetable for the project and details about its process. 

The first step is to form a working group of residents to ensure that the plan is incorporating community feedback into their findings and conclusions. WXY working group will be selected based on geography, experience on integration issues, time spent in the district, race and ethnicity.

The members of the group will include the district superintendent, DOE Central Staff, members of the Community Education Council, two principals, two teachers, two students, two local advocacy groups, three parents/community leaders and two community-based organizations. 

In Muñiz-Sarduy’s absence, D28 Deputy Superintendent Seiw Kong has taken on the role of acting superintendent while the DOE searches for a permanent replacement. But asked about who will take Muñiz-Sarduy’s place in the working group, engineers at WXY did not have an answer. They reached out to the DOE, but the agency did not respond in time for the publication of this article. 

The first “framing” round of the plan will last from December 2019 to January 2020. The following three phases will last from February to June.

The proposed outcomes range from admissions policy to culturally responsive curricula and accountability to make sure that the plan works. 

In District 15, which functioned as guinea pig for diversity plans like District 28’s, this meant prioritizing students who are low-income, English language learners or those who live in temporary housing for 52 percent of all seats in the district’s middle schools, among other structural changes.

To learn more about the plan, visit http://d28diversityplan.com/

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