Bringing diversity and equity to the Ventura County community

Holly Baxter creates consortion group with nearby districts

Navya Batra, Digital Media Manager

The Diversity and Equity Consortion found its start when Holly Baxter, Oak Park Coordinator for Safety and Equity, reached out to nearby districts to discuss the summer Black Lives Matter protests. Prior to reaching out, Baxter and the rest of the Oak Park District administration created the ‘Diversity and Equity Task Force’ which is currently working to bring change to the Oak Park community in terms of racial equality in education.

I reached out to the other districts around us to touch base and see how things were going for them. Over the summer there were so many important events that brought to light the need that we have to talk about racism and racial healing,” Baxter said. 

Following this, Oak Park Unified School District and various other Ventura County Districts created a group to discuss ways to promote a community that is free of bias and systemic racism. 

“The Diversity and Equity Consortion is a group of other districts, including Conejo Valley Unified and Simi Valley Unified that meet about once a month to share resources to talk about the different things we are doing in our district,” Baxter said. “We talk about collaboration and different ways that we can work together to promote diversity and equity through the entire Ventura County.”

Since forming the consortion group, Conejo Valley has also formed an equity task force specific to their district and Simi Valley has appointed a specific administrator who is working toward equity in their district. 

“As far as [other district’s progress], Oak Park is pretty far ahead of the pack,” Baxter said.

As a group, the Ventura County Diversity and Equity Consortion group has made plans to promote diversity in the community. Some of these plans include the possibility of having book- share events or films that will be screened community wide.

“We also participate in training together to learn more about equity and diversity and how we can help students and create a more equitable school that is free of racism, that is free of bias, that is recognizing and working against systemic bias and racism,” Baxter said.

OPUSD’s Diversity and Equity Task Force goals run parallel to those of the consortion group.

“My goal is for there to be some sort of student consortium. It would be really exciting to see students begin to talk about creating a better culture and a better connectedness with each other,” Baxter said.