One of the highest priorities at Arlington Public Schools (APS) is to be a place where all our faculty, staff, students, parents, and caregivers feel valued and safe. I am excited to assume the position of Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer (CDEIO). In this capacity, I believe I can help APS grow as a district that already leads the way in developing a just, equitable, inclusive, and welcoming school community where everyone feels they belong. While this job demands that I design and implement school and district-wide DEI efforts and help shape a healthy and inclusive culture where our students can grow and thrive, I will also deliver DEI learning opportunities to APS educators.
As a committed agent of change, I come to this CDEIO position with experience in the K-12 and postsecondary levels. I obtained my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy from West Virginia University, where I worked as Assistant Director of TRIO Student Support Services (SSS), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. At WVU, I was also charged with institutional, DEI programming for the entire WVU campus. In that role, I traveled with President Gordon E. Gee to visit all 55 counties in West Virginia to address equity, inclusion, unemployment, opioid abuse, and the state’s declining health scores. Since West Virginia had the lowest percentage of residents with college degrees (15% in 2013), we created programs for low income and first-generation students. Outside of my professional duties at the university, I created Minorities in Action to increase the number of Black male teachers in the K-12 space, and to review and revise policies and practices that keep people of color from advancing in the corporate space. Minorities in Action has since become The Bond Educational Group, a non-profit 501c(3) organization with a national team of educators that delivers services to enrich instructional methods and to evaluate school policy. To date, I have worked with 14 school districts across the United States and created DEI centers for two separate institutions in higher education. Most recently, I served as a tenure track professor at Kennesaw State University.
I am confident in my ability to bring a deep understanding of the diversity challenges that exist at APS. With the support of Superintendent Durán, I have created a long-term plan to make data-driven instruction and data-driven accountability at the administrative level a priority. Below is a list of my office’s initiatives.
- Monitor and review Arlington Public Schools Policy A-30 on Equity.
- Create Policy Implementation Procedures (PIP) for the Equity Policy to include the specific responsibilities, procedures, timelines, and schedule for implementation.
- Develop Equity Teams in each school to explore how APS staff best reflect current equity practices.
- Design a data dashboard serving as the Equity Profile; a web-based platform that demonstrates APS’s commitment to transparency and accountability to equitable outcomes. This platform will house APS’s data publicly and all community stakeholders will have access to this information.
- Provide professional learning opportunities for administration, teachers, and staff to review and enhance the social, educational, and psychological well-being of our APS community around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Create Data Learning Communities to cement APS’s commitment to data-driven decisions, solutions, and instruction.
Arlington Public Schools has granted me an incredible opportunity to advance its DEI efforts during this critical juncture in our society. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should not exist in only my office — these principles must be interwoven in the entire school community. This is why we must work together to help our students thrive. I look forward to working with the APS community to address its unique challenges, find common understandings, and produce solutions pertinent to our faculty, staff, students, parents, and guardians.
Jason Ottley, Ph.D.
Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer