Media reports say a complaint has been filed by a national conservative group called Parents Defending Education with the U.S. Department of Education against our BIPOC Community Circle, an affinity group for our BIPOC staff members. We are aware of the reports about the complaint, but the district has not been contacted by any organization or government entity regarding any complaint. The district also has never received a complaint internally or externally about the existence of this or other PPS affinity groups.
We are proud of our efforts to support staff through our affinity groups. The BIPOC affinity group is part of the effort to build an inclusive, anti-racist professional culture and to diversify our staff to better reflect the diversity of our student population. In our district, 50.2 percent of our students this year identify as Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or as two or more races, yet only 14 percent of our more than 1,300 staff identify as People of Color. Within such a homogenous workforce, affinity groups help people who may experience marginalization or be in the minority feel welcomed and supported. Whether it's for Black, Indigenous and other People of Color who are staff, LGBTQ+ staff, or other groups, we want to create a workplace that is inclusive of all the experiences people bring into the workplace.
Below is some recent coverage of this issue in the Portland Press Herald, including news articles and an op-ed. Also, HERE is more information about Parents Defending Education, as compiled by SourceWatch, a publication of the Center for Media and Democracy.