CCUSD hires Asst. Super of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Dr. Jennifer Smith

Hired by the CCUSD Board of Education at the end of May as CCUSD’s first Assistant Superintendent of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Dr. Jennifer Smith brings almost 23 years of experience in education to the position. Dr. Smith most recently served as Curriculum and Instructional Services Division Coordinator for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, where she helped develop Supporting the African Learner: A Guide to Transforming Beliefs, Systems and Practices for Black Students, and served on the working group that issued LACOE’s Beyond the School House Policy Report, which included recommendations to address systemic conditions and disparities at the federal, state, county and district levels. “Dr. Smith has a unique experience and expertise in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that will benefit our district as we seek to address DEI issues at every level of instruction,” said Superintendent Quoc Tran. “I very much look forward to partnering with Dr. Smith, our Board of Education and everyone in the CCUSD family to make sure we are a leader in this area.” The landmark decision, last year, to create a new, cabinet-level position designed develop and lead programs and strategies that foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive school community put CCUSD at the forefront of the DEI discussion. The Assistant Superintendent of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion reports directly to the Superintendent and was the first such position among public schools in the State of California and, perhaps, the nation. “Some districts have a director-level position, a task force or a DEI consultant, but the Board’s decision to create a cabinet-level position focusing specifically on diversity, equity and inclusion is a tangible commitment to CCUSD’s core values and to making sure that every school, every program, and every classroom is dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Tran. “It’s a statement that DEI is important to us and that we place a high value on making sure we fulfill our promise to our school community when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion.” The District’s non-discrimination statement states that the district, “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or national or ethnic origin or ancestry in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics and other after-school programs. The core values of CCUSD are equity, diversity, inclusivity, student centered accountability, innovation and partnerships.” “Creating this position is a powerful statement of our district’s belief that diversity, equity and inclusion should play a pivotal role in our children’s education and in everything CCUSD does,” said thenBoard of Education President Tashon McKeithan, when the position was created. “But this is not the end of that effort. In fact, it is just the beginning. I am excited that our district is at the cutting edge of something so important and so critical to the success of our students and our society in the future.” Dr. Smith, who spent 21 years in the Pasadena Unified School District as a teacher and administrator, earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics/computer science from CSU–Long Beach, her master’s in educational leadership, administration from Point Loma Nazarene University and her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Southern California. Dr. Smith said she is up to the challenge. “I look forward to making sure CCUSD is a leader in making sure diversity, equity and inclusion are a central part of what we teach in the classroom, what we model in our district and what we expect and demand throughout our community,” she said. “This is one of the most diverse districts in the nation, and it is vital that we make sure our values and priorities align with that diversity.”