Dr. Desmond Blackburn: Brevard Schools Has Strong History of Supporting LGBT Community
By Dr. Desmond Blackburn, Brevard County Schools Superintendent // March 2, 2016
“Brevard Public Schools follows both state and federal guidelines regarding equality and has a strong history of supporting students and staff of the LGBT community.”
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – At the February 23 school board meeting, the Board considered adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our anti-harassment policy.
As part of all school board meetings, there was public commentary, much of which voiced strong opposition to the policy change. While many of the comments offered sincere opposition to the change, other speakers chose to use language that many felt was offensive, including the Board, staff, our students and myself.
I want to reassure you that these sentiments do not represent the thoughts, feelings, or interests of our district. In fact, it is the position of this district that we are great champions of all human beings regardless of their sex, religion, national origin, race, disability, gender identity, and so forth.
Brevard Public Schools follows both state and federal guidelines regarding equality and has a strong history of supporting students and staff of the LGBT community and the proposed language change was intended to enhance our current practices.
It is the position of this district that we are great champions of all human beings regardless of their sex, religion, national origin, race, disability, gender identity, and so forth.
There was misinformation shared by some of the public speakers, suggesting that this policy would increase the rights of some students while decreasing the rights of others. This simply is just not the case. Our motives are based on our desire to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students; without exception.
Due to the volume of misinformation surrounding the policy, the Board elected to pause further action while we will continue to develop inclusionary practices as part of our strategic planning process. This will include a revision to our discipline plan to ensure the consistent application of our policies is adhered to by all students; creating an equitable and safe environment.
The conversation relating to this topic that began with the February 23 school board meeting did not signify an ending to this conversation but simply the beginning.
In the weeks and months to come, we will have additional conversations around inclusion issues and our non-discrimination policies.
With that being said, I want to clearly indicate that while we welcome respectful and constructive input from the public, hurtful or defamatory speech will not enhance the work we can do together to support our staff and students.
– Desmond K. Blackburn, Ph.D., Superintendent of Brevard County Schools
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Desmond K. Blackburn, Ph.D. was born to his parents, Desmond and Diana, in Mt. Vernon, New York. In 1988, his parents moved him and his sister to Lauderhill, Florida. He attended Piper High School where he excelled academically and athletically. Dr. Blackburn was involved in Radio Broadcasting, Key Club, Track & Field, Basketball, and the Academy of Finance. After graduating from Piper in 1992, he matriculated to the University of Florida where he was a member of Beta Eta Sigma, Black Honor Society; and he coached high school basketball, all while he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (96’).
In 1996, he returned to South Florida and began teaching math at Plantation High School. While teaching math, he also coached basketball and track. He quickly became known as a very firm, yet fair educator. While teaching and coaching, he took classes at night and on the weekends to earn a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from Nova-Southeastern University. In March 2000 he became an Assistant Principal at Sunrise Middle School.
In July 2003, he became the Principal of Ramblewood Middle School. His tenure at Ramblewood Middle School ended in 2007. At that time, and under his leadership, the school was the only middle school in the district to have earned an A grade and make Adequate Yearly Progress every year since the inception of the No Child Left Behind federal law. In 2006, Ramblewood Middle School was recognized as one of the top 75 middle schools in the state. In that same year, he earned a Doctorate of Philosophy from Florida Atlantic University where he has gone on to become an Adjunct Professor in Educational Leadership.
Since then, Dr. Blackburn has served Broward County Public Schools as a District Trainer, Director of School Improvement, an Area Superintendent, and the Chief School Performance & Accountability Officer. In July 2015, he became the Superintendent of Schools for Brevard Public Schools.
In 2011, The National Association of Black Student Educators, Broward Chapter, recognized him as an “Administrative Outlier.” In 2013, the Upsilon Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., honored him as a “Father Who Makes a Difference.” In 2014, Legacy Magazine recognized him as one of the “50 Most Powerful Black Business Leaders” and the Broward Education Foundation recognized him as a “Distinguished Alumni of” the Broward County School System. His fraternal affiliations include the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He and his wife Kelli have just celebrated their 18th anniversary and have two sons, Dean and Grant.