Some said it will create a more inclusive school climate, and others said the vote should be tabled until more research is done.By Jessica Guay

MCCANDLESS, Pa. (KDKA) – A hot topic on the North Allegheny School Board meeting agenda Wednesday night was diversity training.

The school board voted to 5-4 to approve a motion on diversity, equity, and inclusion training for the school district. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association will provide the training.

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Before being approved — students, parents, and community members shared what they thought about diversity training. Some said it will create a more inclusive school climate, and others said the vote should be tabled until more research is done.

“It all comes down to uplifting more students because this diversity training is going to benefit everyone,” said Sam Podnar, a student at North Allegheny High School and a member of NA for Change.

“It’s coming from the Pa. School Board Association that has recently put out documentation that has a lot of language that has its root in the critical race theory,” said Karyn Coy, a parent and community member.

The training will cost $10,000. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association will provide training to NA Empower committee members, administration and school board members.

The school board president said 60 out of the 1,300 staff members will be trained.

“This training is really geared towards a specific group of faculty members, counselors and teachers specifically to get their understanding up to speed,” said Andrew Chomos, president of the North Allegheny School Board.

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He also said, “It’s going to prevent us from having situations where teachers have kind of gone on their own to do diversity training, and those programs haven’t gone that well for North Allegheny. It’s far better to have an organized effort.”

The training will be used to create North Allegheny School District-developed diversity, equity and inclusion activities.

NA for Change is a coalition that’s been pushing for this training. The coalition is made up of students, alumni, parents, educators and community members who want students to feel included in the classroom.

“Too often, large groups of people are left behind and the stories we’ve received, they’re really heartbreaking. They are the fuel that fuels us pushing for change,” said Jaime Martinez, a former student and one of the founders of NA for Change.

“We are happy the school district is finally moving forward and taking action, even advocating for almost a year now. This is just the foundation, and the foundation has to be set for any further action,” he added.

Others voiced their concerns and said more research about this program and other available programs needs to be done.

“Like with anything, there is a political bias and position bias that can be in any organizations. I think sometimes you have to make sure you filter through that,” said Coy.

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The training will start this month.