Frisco ISD hires Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist

Over the years the Frisco Independent School District has transformed from one that is mostly white, to one that is now less than 40 percent white, 31 percent Asian, 13.5 percent Hispanic, and 11.2 percent Black.

The district’s response to support the changing demographics was to hire an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist, Dr. Nikki Mouton. 

“She will work with all different kinds of groups, including students within our district to address equity and diversity and inclusion needs and issues,” superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip, “I’m really excited about that position, I think that’s an area that we really have an opportunity to do a lot of really good work in.” 

Working at many schools in various districts, Mouton’s past experiences play a large part in why she does what she does. 

“I grew up an only child to a single parent, my mother worked for the local college in our town and her job was to work with underrepresented minority students who came from families where no one had attended college yet and these students were high school students and her job essentially was to help them understand how education can help them become college students, or enter into the work sector, and essentially become more successful. Even as a little child, I saw how students who felt as if the system, if you will, had given up on them actually started to see a light that ‘wow this can work for me and I too can be successful.’” 

Mouton is the first Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Specialist the district has had and she is embracing the possibilities of what her role could be. 

“What we foresee happening is this role is going to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders,” Mouton said. “So that means campus employees, that means district employees, that means community members, that means students to ensure that we have an understanding of what our structures, our resources, our processes, our supports that we have available for all students so that we make certain that we’re not inadvertently leaving some students behind.” 

And students play a crucial role in creating an inclusive environment at school.  

“Students have a major role in that, because they are our number one customer,” she said. “They’re the reason why we’re here and there is no way for us to know and understand the student experience without garnering the student voice. So I’m really really excited to know that we have students in Frisco ISD who have the forethought to step back and ask the questions of us; what should our curriculum include and why doesn’t it have more representation of people of color.”

While the curriculum does represent people of color, students such as junior Tarini Pankanti believe there is room for improvement. 

“I think that there is always more that we can do to better equip people of color, because Frisco ISD is such a diverse district, there’s so much representation of people of color, so I think the curriculum needs to be enriched as well,” Pankanti said. “There’s always so much more that we can do, and so much more that we can learn about Black history. Another important part of it is that it’s not just Black and white, there’s so many other races [and cultures]. We should learn more about Hispanic culture, Asian culture, and it’s really our responsibility to make sure that kids learn more about people of color and diversity. If we don’t expose them to that now, it’s gonna be difficult for them to really appreciate it in the future, because diversity is the future and it’s so important that more people of color are being treated like they matter because they do. The more that we enforce that in schools and get that into kids’ minds, the easier it’s gonna be for them in the future, because that’s gonna become more of a reality.”

Mouton believes that when it comes to her work, diversity is more complex than what people tend to believe.

“It encompasses so much more; it’s race, it’s ethnicity, it’s mental and physical abilities, it’s culture, it’s religion, it’s interest, it’s perspectives, so the question there is how do we make sure that we are creating an environment where all of those pieces are not only welcomed, but encouraged and leveraged and valued and used so that we can become better,” Mouton said. “It’s recognizing that not all students need the same type of supports for the success that we want, so we have to make sure that we’re providing differentiated support systems to meet the needs of each of our students and understanding that students don’t fit into these nice little boxes that we just can address with one fell swoop. It’s going to take some attention to looking at individual needs and addressing them.”


This story was updated on 11/3/20 at 9:57 a.m. to correct Dr. Mouton’s title. She is the district’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Strategist, not Specialist.