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A Message from the Superintendent

  • superintendent

    As Superintendent, one of my top priorities is to ensure that all of our students, employees and families - regardless of their race or circumstances - are welcomed and supported on our campuses. 

    In a collaborative effort with teachers, administrators, and families, in 2021 the Pasadena Unified School District adopted a shared definition of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  The definition, along with the District’s Equity Litmus test (the Lens), is now applied to every action and decision to ensure that everyone on our campuses is valued for who they are. 

    It is the lens through which we see our actions, methods, and systems. With this lens, in the last several years, PUSD has elevated the student voice through the Student Think Tank, added Ethnic Studies courses in high schools, and deepened anti-bias professional development. 

    Our work to develop the next generation is continuous. We can all take pride in the progress we’ve made and look forward to the work ahead to ensure that all students and staff have the best educational experience in PUSD schools.

    Brian O. McDonald, Ed.D.

  • Equity Goal

    The District’s overall goal is to promote excellence through educational equity and eliminate barriers that keep students, especially those from marginalized communities, from receiving a high-quality education. This will be accomplished by the elimination of discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, and mental or physical disability, AND the cultivation of an inclusive and anti-racist environment for the entire PUSD community. Therefore, our efforts must support and reinforce the District's efforts toward educational equity.

    Development of the Institutional Equity Implementation Office

    The Office of Institutional Equity Implementation was developed with the purpose of ensuring that our district meets the intention of aligning, integrating and cross stitching all of our education justice and equity initiatives at the district and school site level. We are seeking to build equity in voice, systems alignment for inclusion, dismantling barriers for academic success and a consistency and coherence of learner-centered practices.

    Culture Statement

    Pasadena Unified School District shall cultivate a culture of trust where employees, parents, students, and the community are welcomed, valued, and supported. We will collaborate with each other and our partners to achieve academic excellence, pursue continuous personal and professional improvement, and build positive relationships. We will celebrate our strengths and continually embrace opportunities to improve as a community of learners

    Diversity Equity & Inclusion Collaborative 

    In 2019, Pasadena Unified School District embarked on a collaborative effort with multiple stakeholders including union representatives, site administrators and district leadership in order to look at diversity, equity and inclusion within our school district. Students come to our schools from multiple backgrounds, and it is vital to recognize and value each of the cultures represented in our schools. Our collaborative group acknowledged that being culturally responsive is the work at the heart of making our school system more equitable. Within the collaborative group, common definitions and a lens were developed and shared with all parent groups. After presenting to the PUSD School Board in June 2021, the School Board unanimously adopted the definitions and lens.


    Intentionally valuing the multiple identities that are represented in our school structure.


    Equity is ensuring avenues of success for all students and staff by honoring and supporting individual experiences, talents, skills and needs. 


    A space where a person’s whole identity is appreciated, celebrated and supported; and all experiences and contributions are valued.

    The Lens

    Does the impact of the current and/or the proposed action directly encourage the valuing of multiple, intersectional identities? How do we know?

    Does the action ensure avenues of success for BIPOC and marginalized students/employees? Is the action at the expense of/harming BIPOC and marginalized groups?

    Does the action intentionally contribute to the belonging of BIPOC and marginalized groups? How do we know?

    DEI Collaborative Mission Statement

    To provide a safe and supportive environment where we work to eradicate systemic inequalities including but not limited to racism, micro-aggressions and unconscious biases used  in a derogatory manner toward Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our entire school system so all employees, students, and families can grow and thrive in OUR journey towards diversity, equity and inclusion.

    DEI Collaborative Vision Statement

    To dismantle barriers and create conditions for educational justice.

  • Community Schools

    California's historic investment in Community Schools is based on Four Cornerstone Commitments that align with PUSD's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion lens: 

    • A commitment to asset-driven and strength-based practice

    • A commitment to racially just and restorative school climates

    • A commitment to powerful, culturally proficient, and relevant instruction

    • A commitment to shared decision-making and participatory practices 

    In PUSD Community Schools, these commitments are reflected through a campus culture that values the multiple and intersectional identities and collective wisdom of our students, families, and community members; school campuses that serve as centers of community connection, healing, and wellness; school climates that embrace and support students' whole selves; school policies and practices that emphasize teaching social-emotional skills and restorative practices; collaborative and relevant learning experiences that engage students as citizens and informed decision-makers; and authentic partnership with parents and communities partners, built on a foundation of trust, cultural humility, and mutual respect. 

    Curriculum Review

    Using Gholdy Muhammad's Cultivating Genius as our anchor, lead PUSD educators are convening to apply a lens of identity and criticality to our Curriculum Scope & Sequences, starting with English Language Arts. Upon implementation, students will be provided with a learning experience centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion, in which students can see themselves and their communities reflected in the curriculum.

    Ethnic Studies

    The Ethnic Studies Collaborative is charged with developing and refining a stand-alone Ethnic Studies course, already A-G approved by the University of California, that fulfills either elective credit or US History credit. Using California's Ethnic Studies "model curriculum" as an anchor, the collaborative aims to fulfill the vision of this course for PUSD, which is to provide students with knowledge, resources, and tools to help them develop as catalysts for change who promote inclusivity and raise awareness of the societal power dynamics that result in inequities and oppression in marginalized communities. In addition, this group of teacher-leaders also collaborates with teachers of other disciplines and grade levels to embed ethnic studies teaching in their content.

    Anti-Racism Professional Development

    Under the leadership of Equity Specialist Stephanie Cosey and Powerful Choices, Pasadena Unified School District teachers are engaging in a 2-year Anti-Racism Professional Development series, in which they learn about systems of oppression that have resulted in inequities for our marginalized students and their communities. This Professional Development series also provides teachers with skills and strategies to design and implement a learning experience that honors diversity, centers inclusivity, and promotes equity so that students are able to access the content and thrive as emerging agents of change.


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