The policy, written specifically for Title I schools in the district, was designed to “form a collaborative effort between home and school,” according to a policy packet which each parent received at the meeting.
The Office of Federal Programs requires Title I schools to have a district-wide policy that outlines goals and strategies for more parent involvement in order to receive grants.
“The school district and parents in that district have a responsibility to support school achievement, so the purpose of the meeting [was] to give parents the chance to read it, understand it and make sure it reflects what we as a community wants it to reflect,” said Executive Director Morcease Beasley.
Title I schools in DeKalb, which serve underprivileged students, are eligible for federal funding if students continue to show academic improvements.
Resident Merrill White said communication between the school system and parents was essential for student progress.
“Many parents don’t understand what Title I means, so being more aware of what it means and what it does for our schools is important,” she said.
The meeting for the new policy paid special attention to the diverse cultural makeup of DeKalb; about 10 different interpreters speaking a range of languages were present to help translate for families who were not native English speakers.
Clarkston resident Kim Ault said collaboration with non-native students and their families would build better schools as well as a stronger county.
“We have to think about the audience we’re speaking to in terms of where they are coming from because when you tell someone from Somalia or Nepal ‘come to a PTA meeting,’ they may not have encountered that before,” she said, emphasizing that educating parents was just as important as educating students.
The policy also stated that the school board aimed to increase rigor and academic achievement with the support of parents in order to improve graduation rates in the county.
“We need to think of this school district as a Title I community as a whole and know that a big part of federal programs and funding is parent involvement,” Beasley said.
In the parent involvement policy, updated in late October, the school district stated its schools “will provide full opportunities for the participation of parents of limited English proficiency by providing information and school reports in an understandable and uniform format.”
Representatives from local businesses and organizations in the county were also at the meeting to speak about the importance of school achievement for the community.
A district wide Title I annual meeting will occur Nov. 16.