Danielle J. Ballard Ed.D

Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Freeport Public Schools


[email protected]


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Overview


Freeport Public Schools values and celebrates diversity and equity, while striving for inclusive excellence throughout our learning community. We recognize and value the varied needs, strengths and perspectives of our students, staff, families and community. We are committed to ensuring that all members of the FPS learning community have access to the resources that are necessary for each individual to be successful. Our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion ensures that students, staff and school community members are at the center of everything we do.


Diversity is the acknowledgement, encouragement, and appreciation of the quality of differing identities, experiences and belief systems within our learning community. Freeport Public Schools is committed to providing a welcoming and affirming environment which recognizes and celebrates all students, staff and families from all diverse backgrounds. As a community, we aim to be respectful and understanding to all.


Freeport Public Schools is dedicated to providing a culture where each individual within our learning community can thrive. FPS commits to building a culture that empowers students, staff, and school community partners so that everyone can feel supported in reaching their full potential.


Inclusion is the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement to recognize and encourage diversity and equity within all areas of Freeport Public Schools. Freeport Public Schools is committed to ensuring that all individuals feel welcome, respected, supported, valued, and are provided with a sense of belonging.

Restorative Practices Overview

Freeport Public Schools acknowledges the imperative to ensure a safe, welcoming and affirming environment for all students, staff, and stakeholders. Freeport Public Schools has taken actionable steps to ensure that all students, staff, and community feel a sense of belonging and are supported throughout our buildings and district. All staff throughout the district accept a shared responsibility to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Professional learning opportunities are offered to all district staff to support the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives of the district. 

One area of focus to help support the district's goals aligned to SEL and DEI has been the implementation of Restorative Practices. Beginning in August of 2022 during Superintendent’s Conference Day, all staff came together to discuss and analyze how the fields of Social-Emotional Learning and Restorative Practices can enable us to foster empathetic and respectful learning communities while simultaneously addressing the uptick in challenging student behaviors and conflicts. Participants used the information from the training to construct their personal visions for the upcoming year and apply new learnings toward establishing environments that are equitable, inclusive, and representative of all members of the Freeport community. 


During the November 2022 Superintendent’s Conference Day, Freeport educators explored the fundamental principles of Restorative Practices, which was an extension of the material covered during the August session. Participants developed an understanding of  how Restorative Practices impact academic achievement, student behavior, and the overall culture and climate of a school. During this session, all staff had the opportunity to be able to connect Restorative Practices with the district's vision for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In addition, our grades 7-12 Freeport educators experienced community-building circles and  learned the basics of circle facilitation. Foundational to Restorative Practices, circle processes enable educators to improve engagement and collaboration in the classroom by prioritizing relationships, connection, trust, and shared ownership. Not limited to academic settings, the strategies that were demonstrated in these sessions are directly applicable to staff meetings, family engagement, and all other gatherings of Freeport community members. All participants were provided with resources that will allow them to immediately implement the strategies modeled during the workshop.

Research suggests that teachers who regularly facilitate circles are perceived as more respectful by students, have fewer behavioral referrals, and have students who are more engaged in classroom assignments. Dodd Middle School and Freeport High School staff who have volunteered to continue this work in their instructional spaces will have the primary focus of building capacity to facilitate Restorative Circles in their classrooms. Participants will receive instruction on how to facilitate circles with fidelity, managing behaviors during circles, trauma-informed circles, using circles to address problems in the class and teach academic content while promoting Social Emotional Learning and Cultural Responsiveness. Additionally, staff will have classroom visits with a co-facilitator, as well as, 3 Pre-Meetings and Post-Meetings and ongoing support when needed. Teachers part of this pilot program will in turn become teacher leaders within their buildings and turn-key training to additional staff members. 

Administrators, along with support staff, will take a deep dive into the theory of responding to incidents which have caused “harm” within their buildings, meeting the needs of those who experienced harm, and producing accountability and lasting behavioral change in those who have caused harm to others. In addition, the Team will explore various restorative solutions in response to violations of Freeport’s Code of Conduct and examine how to embed such solutions into each school's systems and policies for consistency and sustainability.