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While achievement and opportunity gaps and systemic racism exist in the majority of school districts across the United States, not every school district authentically acknowledges and addresses these issues. In this case study, researchers examine a PreK–12 school district situated in a racially and economically diverse mid-Atlantic city in which race- and class-based discrimination have been well documented and recent episodes of extreme racial violence have affected the community. The school district, which employs 1,300 teachers and serves over 14,000 students, developed and implemented a grassroots approach by forming a district-wide culturally responsive leadership team. Through interviews with 10 culturally responsive leadership team members, including school district officials, school-level administrators, and teachers, researchers explicate collaborative relationships that promote district-wide change practices. Findings detailing the creation and enactment of this culturally responsive program include (a) culturally responsive school leadership; (b) engaging in culturally responsive district-wide practices, and (c) encouraging program participants to engage in critical self-reflection.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Education Human Resources, volume 38, issue 1, in 2020 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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University of Toronto Press



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