SDUHSD to join One San Dieguito Alliance in 2024

SDUHSD is set to partner with the National Conflict Resolution Center to form the One San Dieguito Initiative in January 2024, the latest development in efforts to “create a sense of belonging and inclusion for all students across all campuses,” according to SDUHSD Superintendent Anne Staffieri.

On multiple campuses in the district, accounts of a “heightened sense of polarization and an increase of hate- based incidents” have been reported, Staffieri said in an email to the Falconer. Only last month, a swastika was found painted on a boys’ bathroom wall at TPHS [story on A5 of the October Issue].

The NCRC — founded in 1983 by the University of San Diego Law Center and the San Diego Bar Association — is a company that employs directors, mediators and trainers specialized in conflict resolution across the nation. The NCRC will aid SDUHSD with specialized training including effectively implementing skills centered around inclusive communication, the bystander effect and restorative practices.

Prior to commencing training, the NCRC will survey community members in January, a practice that will ensure families and staff in the district “have opportunities to be seen as we work to become healthier as a community,” according to Staffieri.

The collaboration will also aid to “build culture and help resolve conflicts more effectively,” Staffieri said.

While the SDUHSD partnership with NCRC was not in direct response to the TPHS incident, according to Board President Rimga Viskanta, there are many on the TPHS campus who see this as an especially positive change given the recent hate incident on campus.

“It’s important that our school is aware of the impact of hate on our entire community,” TPHS PALS President Alyssa Nguyen (12) said. “I think that it is important that the initiative does create change in our community and is not just something to say we are a part of, as it is necessary that changes are made to make TPHS a safe and inclusive environment for everyone.”

Adi Adatiya (9), one of two Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commissioners for ASB, agreed.

“It’s super important to continue to connect with our students, especially when [incidents] happen,” Adatiya said. “If we don’t acknowledge it, and instead just try to bring people together without changing anything, it’s going to keep happening over and over again, which is why this new deal is such a good idea.”

With this, Staffieri said she expects that “incidents of bullying and targeting” will decrease as a result of the One San Dieguito Initiative.

“I’ve seen firsthand … how the restorative approaches [the NCRC] practices and teaches can hold students accountable in communities for the harm they cause, thereby reducing the chance for escalation or continued incidents,” Staffieri said.

Staffieri hopes to first build up a “culture of tolerance,” so that the path toward true acceptance can be met in the future through SDUHSD’s work with the NCRC.

Nguyen agreed.

“TPHS should be a place of learning, friendship and positive experiences that will prepare us for adulthood. It should never be a place to spread or experience hate,” Nguyen said. “It is [PALS’] goal to make all of TPHS a safe place for students and staff. While this is an ambitious goal, I believe that by spreading kindness, celebrating our differences and educating our community — just like this program sets up for us — we have a chance to make everybody on campus feel included.”

On the board, similar sentiments were expressed.

“I hope this initiative provides common understanding through the district of how we can work together to create an atmosphere of acceptance and belonging so that, ultimately, we may fully embrace and celebrate the beautiful diversity that strengthens our school community,” Viskanta said.

Board Clerk Katrina Young also acknowledged the importance of this initiative to SDUHSD.

“While misunderstandings and conflict are inevitable in any community, my hope is that we continually strive to find ways to seek understanding, even if and especially when we disagree. To that end, I believe that this initiative is absolutely essential,” Young said.

Outside of the boardroom, Adatiya voices a similar view, with hope for the future of TPHS and all other students in the district.

“I truly hope that every student is listened to. There are students that don’t get a voice and who want to be heard, but it’s hard for them because of circumstances like with the bathroom and such,” Adatiya said.

The One San Dieguito Initiative is set to conclude in June 2026.

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