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CCPS moving forward with focus on equity, diversity and cultural competency

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) Superintendent of Schools Maria V. Navarro, Ed.D., has recently addressed a few incidents in which either staff or students demonstrated hate/discriminatory speech. As previously noted in her letter to the community in December (linked here), the school system has prioritized its focus on ensuring these types of incidents are both addressed and prevented.

CCPS has a committee comprised of staff, parents and community partners such as the Charles County Branch of the NAACP, focused on such work. The CCPS Educational Equity Task Force Committee meets monthly and was recently expanded to invite additional community stakeholders and students in its undertakings. In the coming weeks, the committee plans to review CCPS employee trainings and conduct expectations, with a goal of providing recommendations to the Superintendent and Board members. The committee also plans to review recommendations for student resources regarding topics such as equity and inclusion.

The committee’s next meeting is Jan. 26 and members will review the current language in the CCPS employee manual for possible revisions for Superintendent approval, as well as discuss possible policy changes for Board consideration. The committee is led by Sylvia Royster, director of community engagement and equity for CCPS. Royster is also leading the system in a review of its current professional development and staff trainings that relate to topics such as cultural competency, diversity and equity, biases and professionalism.

Additionally, CCPS is partnering with community organizations to ensure staff and teachers have up-to-date skills and training in areas such as equity and diversity. The Charles County Branch of the NAACP has agreed to partner with CCPS to not only participate in the work of the equity task force, but to support the onboarding of new staff including teachers,

Superintendent Navarro said the work of the task force is a priority for the school system.

“In order for Charles County Public Schools to continue to be a thriving and inclusive school system, it must not waiver from its commitment to ensure that students and staff feel safe, welcomed and accepted throughout CCPS. This commitment is not new, however recent events have emphasized the need for a collective and deep review of our policies, practices and expectations. We do this work by engaging our staff, students, parents and community partners, and I look forward to the collective recommendations from the Educational Equity Task Force Committee,” Navarro said.

Dyotha Sweat, president of the Charles County Branch of the NAACP, said she looks forward to a continued partnership with the school system that will benefit all students, staff and community members.

“The CCNAACP looks forward to partnering with CCPS to ensure that our students can thrive in safe, discrimination-free schools,” Sweat said. “This process will be a marathon, and not a sprint. And there is clearly a great deal of thought, education and community involvement that will be necessary to make this effort a success.”

Other external agencies and stakeholder groups represented on the CCPS Educational Equity Task Force Committee include the Title IV Indian Education Parent Committee, Office of the Inspector General, Charles County Government (local care team, community engagement and equity offices) and Charles County Rise, a community group comprised of CCPS parents.

In addition to the work being led by the equity task force, the Office of Community Engagement and Equity also oversees targeted implicit bias professional development and training. Through a contract with the Institute for Student Achievement, CCPS has offered implicit bias training since 2021 for school leadership teams, including principals and assistant principals.

The goal of the training is for school leaders to develop and support a culturally responsive school climate for all students, staff and the community. To evaluate the training and assess the needs and action items for those participating, an Implicit Bias Advisory Committee was launched this school year of which members meet with school leaders to work on culture and climate goals and action items. This training will expand to other CCPS staff in the future as additional implicit bias facilitators are trained.

Updates to the work of these committees and the school system’s focus on equity, diversity and cultural competency will be posted to the CCPS website at

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).