Meet Davis School District’s new assistant superintendent

Local News

FARMINGTON, Utah (ABC4) — For months, ABC4 has been following the Davis School District after the United States Department of Justice released a scathing report citing racial harassment and inequality across the district’s 90+ schools. Now, the district has a new assistant superintendent who will work with the Office of Equal Opportunity to ensure students are treated equally.  

According to the Department of Justice’s report, Asian American and African American students were often targeted by their peers and teachers. The report also states that administrators at some schools refused to allow Black students to form clubs. This, the report says, violates the student’s rights.  

For the next five years, the district will be under an improvement plan laid out by the DOJ. 

 In November, Superintendent Reid Newey addressed the school board asking for an addition to the plan. He said 10 to 14 percent of the district’s students are minority or special population students. He stated that he would like to increase the district’s efforts to hire staff to reflect that population. This, he said, to help create an inclusive environment for all students. 

“We have to rely on the teaching staff, all of the adults in the building, to be the eyes and ears with kids,” Newey said. “We continue to work with our students, you know, similar to our safety approach: ‘See something, say something.” 

The school district may now be closer to that goal with Newey appointing a new assistant superintendent. This assistant superintended will focus on diversity and equity issues in the district. 

“I’m here for the children,” Dr. Jackie Thompson told ABC4’s Kade Garner.  

Sitting down to converse with Dr. Thompson, it quickly became apparent that she loves children. Her office is full of children’s books. These books are inspirational and full of diverse characters. It’s that love, along with decades of experience, that led to her appointment as the new assistant superintendent at Davis School District. 

In a press release, the district emphasized all Dr. Thompson’s accolades which made her the perfect candidate for the position. The district’s release reads: 

Thompson retired from the Davis School District in 2018 (Dr. Thompson told ABC4 it is actually 2017). At that time, she was serving as the Director of Educational Equity. Her duties and  responsibilities included the District’s Parent Equity Committee, multicultural education, civil  rights issues, Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage (REACH) training, Advancement via  Individual Determination (AVID), and the V(i)llage Program.  

Prior to joining Davis School District in 2000, Thompson taught public school in Idaho and  California, worked as a gender equity specialist and education specialist in the Utah State Office  of Education, and as an Equal Employment Opportunity specialist at Hill Air Force Base.  

During her career, Thompson has received numerous awards and national recognitions including  the Spirit of the American Woman Award for Public Education in 1994 and the Utah Women’s  Achievement Award presented by the Governor’s Commission for Women and Families in 1998.  She served as Mrs. Utah in 1999 and was the recipient of the Salt Lake Branch NAACP Martin  Luther King Award for the year 2000. Additionally, she was the 2011 recipient of the Drum  Major Award for the Utah State Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Commission and  recognized by the Idaho State University Alumni Association with the Professional Achievement  Award at its 2015 Commencement. On Nov. 12, 2012, Gov. Gary Herbert appointed Thompson  to the State Multicultural Commission. She also served as the Education Chair on the Utah State  Martin Luther King, Jr. Human Rights Commission  

Thompson told ABC4 that the district feels like family to her. When she read the DOJ’s report, she said she was heartbroken. She explained that her love for the kids, and her district family, made the decision to accept the position an easy choice.  

She told ABC4 all about her hopes for the future adding, “Most importantly, we’ve got to look at the resolution where all students feel safe, valued, loved, and respected in the classrooms.” 

To do that, the district now has an Office of Equal Opportunity. Dr. Thompson will work with its director, coordinators and dozens of cultural liaisons. She explained that they will be responsible for making complaints and investigating them, creating community connections, as well as many other responsibilities.  

“I’m excited to have boots on the ground,” Thompson stated. “I’m excited about the challenges that are coming forward in a positive way.” She told ABC4 that making students feel safe and proud of who they are is paramount to their success.  “We want our students to not only graduate, but to be college and career ready.” 

She said in order to ensure the success of all students, all staff, students, and parents will need to be onboard. She said it’s like the old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” She added: “And we want to hear from them (parents and students). We want them to be part of the solution with us as we move forward.” 

The DOJ’s report highlighted a variety of racial inequality issues across the district. Much of the report focuses on African American and American Asian students. Dr. Thompson explained that while addressing those problems, the district will also work with Hispanic students, Pacific Islander students, Native American students, and students of off backgrounds and ethnicities to better understand how to improve.  

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