Aiming for a More Diverse and Inclusive Community, La Salle Debuts Its First Equity Statement


Lukas Werner

“I’m hoping that it provides clarity for our community about our work, and I hope it brings our community together,” Principal Ms. Alanna O’Brien said regarding La Salle’s new equity statement.

Anna Waldron, Staff Reporter

La Salle is enacting the first equity statement in the school’s history due to the work of the Inclusion Committee and their team of students, parents, staff, administrators, and alumni. 

In order to produce a statement that reflects the voices of the La Salle community and the school’s mission as a whole, the committee gathered information and examples of equity statements from public, Catholic, and independent educational institutions, along with neighboring schools like Clackamas High School. 

“While this statement is a living document that reflects the voices of our community, it has also been affirmed by our Board of Trustees and our Lasallian district,” President Andrew Kuffner said. 

“From our purpose at La Salle, it’s a statement that defines our vision and our beliefs around our equity work at La Salle,” Principal and Inclusion Committee member Ms. Alanna O’Brien said. “Especially given the number of directions we can take, it’s a document that provides clarity to the community and to our institution,” she said. It is important to Ms. O’Brien that this document provides assurance around the school’s goals and values. 

“With the completion of this statement, the Inclusion Committee can now develop an equity lens that will support the school in living up to and animating our full mission as decisions are made, programs are deployed, and policies are created and implemented,” Mr. Kuffner said.

The equity statement is displayed prominently on the La Salle website.

Director of Equity and Inclusion Ms. Kiah Johnson Mounsey had hopes of producing an equity statement when she was first hired at La Salle. By finalizing the statement, Mounsey envisions a Lasallian community that is inviting to all people and embraces diversity. “Remembering that we are a diverse community and our differences definitely need to be celebrated and having a document that is very much living almost as our banners in the hallway are — that’s what my hope is,” she said.

Ms. Mounsey “definitely was the driver, and one of the things we hoped she would be able to bring with her when she started working here was being able to facilitate a process to create a statement,” Ms. O’Brien said. 

Along with the diversity and inclusion of all students, the committee and staff wanted the statement to reflect and embody the school’s mission as a Lasallian institution. While the inclusion committee and the administration were forming this statement and working to incorporate equity, they asked themselves, “How do we as a Catholic and Lasallian school advance our equity work in a way that aligns with our mission as a Lasallian school,” Ms. O’Brien said.

She acknowledged that many people feel the faith aspect is separate from the equity work, and as part of La Salle’s efforts to build a more inclusive community, Ms. O’Brien wants to clearly connect those together. She believes the statement “also speaks to us being grounded in our Lasallian mission and our Catholic faith,” and hopes to continue working to implement religious values in the continued steps in transforming equity at La Salle. 

After the Inclusion Committee was put in place this year, it became clear to Ms. Mounsey that creating a declaration of La Salle’s values and where the school stands in terms of equity and inclusion would be necessary, which became one of her main goals when coming to La Salle.

“I wanted to create a team of culturally competent and visionary people who wanted to take on this work, and I wanted a diverse group of people, hence, everybody from all different parts of our school community,” Ms. Mounsey said. “This work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice is not just my work as director of diversity, it’s everybody’s job.”

Ms. Mounsey hopes that by releasing the statement, everyone in the La Salle community can understand what the school values, and it can help initiate a more inclusive community. “I also think that when it comes to policies, if decisions are on the table, having this statement present to provide clarity in that decision-making process will be useful,” Ms. O’Brien said, “It’s a document that can hold us accountable when we need to be held accountable.”

With clear values and a committee to help initiate and guide this statement, the administration feels hopeful for the future of equity at La Salle. “I pray that this statement can be a tool for unifying our school community and providing a vision for what’s possible,” Ms. O’Brien said.