JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – Jackson Public School officials have a lot to think about after a community forum was held Monday on equity and inclusion.

The meeting was part of an ongoing process that administrators said is working to bridge gaps in education equity.

The talk sparked discussion over diversity practices, and overall most people felt their concerns were heard.

“I thought it was a great direction to go to and I think lots of voices were heard, and yeah, a lot of ideas were thrown around so I think it was a positive,” said Lanette Drummond, a JPS parent.

She was one of several dozen Jackson residents listening to the answers given for how the district can increase both commitment and capacity to welcome all families and foster success.

The broad question drew a mix of suggestions and concerns over the state of the district. Recommendations from parents and other Jackson community members focused on addressing class sizes and incorporating more trade courses.

“Just teach morals through literature because sometimes we don’t teach a lot of literature anymore. I’m 65 and we had like the great classics and it taught you friendship honesty, courage, and a lot of things like that,” said Marylin Acton-Dowell, a Jackson Resident.

6 News cameras were not allowed in the public meeting before it started, with officials citing privacy concerns. But inside, talks were calm and directed by Dr. Jay Marks, a professional in diversity and inclusion.

Principals from several Jackson schools had an opportunity to share how they are tackling the push for more equity. Methods included increased funding for popular library books and navigating discipline issues with solutions that avoided suspensions and looking for root causes.

That lead some parents to voice concerns over worries that critical race theory was being used in the district. Another parent was concerned over hiring practices, saying the district should worry about qualifications compared to racial representation.

Dr. Marks and his work were the focus of some questions as well. He says his job was to help create a safe space for dialogue.

“We need to continue these conversations. But also these conversations need to lead to some action,” said Dr. Marks.

Superintended Jeff Beal declined an interview after the meeting but said the forum was an eye-opening experience for him and his staff with a lot of questions and recommendations for administrators.