in the Ashland School District

Southern Oregon Black and African American Student Success (SOBAASS)

Dear ASD Families and Staff,

As you may already know, the Ashland School District is part of the Southern Oregon Black and African American Student Success Grant Consortium.

We are working with the Southern Oregon Education Services District to better meet the needs of our Black/African American students and families. The grant's fiscal agent has moved from the Medford School District to SOESD.

The SOBASS grant will help fund:

  • D.L. Richardson, SOBAASS Specialist, available as a Liaison/Advocate between students and their families, in the 10 districts covered by the grant. D.L. can be reached at
  • Black Student Unions (BSUs), coordinated by Southern Oregon Education Services District (SOESD). Both Ashland Middle School and Ashland High School have active BSUs. Please click on the school names and scroll down to the BSU section to find details about the meeting dates, times, and locations.
  • SOBASS Parent Nights led by Becca Laroi (
  • Afroscoutz coordinated by Black Alliance and Social Empowerment (B.A.S.E).
  • SOU's Black Youth Leadership Summit and SOU's Black Youth Summer Institute coordinated by the Black Southern Oregon Alliance (B.S.O.A.), SOU’s Youth Programs, and the SOU Equity Coordinator for Racial Justice

I will use this newsletter format to let you know of any updates, activities, and events as I receive them. In upcoming newsletters, we will feature the work of each of the above people and organizations.

If you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Andrea Townsend

Director of Equity and Inclusion/ Directora de Equidad e Inclusión

Ashland Public Schools/ Escuelas Públicas de Ashland

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers/ Pronombres: Ella, De ella

D.L. Richardon - SOBAASS Specialist

D.L. is back to helping our Ashland School District families!

Mr. D.L. Richardson is an Oregon-based educator with 25 plus years of experience in teaching, diversity training, and public speaking. D.L. has taught communication courses at the university and high school levels, including everything from Public Speaking to Media and Civil Rights History, as well as Journalism and Public Relations.

He currently serves on the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency, The Oregon African American/Black Student Success Advisory Committee, The Governor’s (Oregon) Healthy Schools Re-opening Council, the Oregon Racial Justice Council’s Education Recovery Committee, Foundations for a Better Oregon, and the Jackson County (Oregon) United Way.

In his role as the SOBAASS Specialist, he will focus on Black / African American students rather than broader equity issues. He will:

1. Serve as an on-call Family Liaison/Advocate with schools for families in the consortium districts.

2. Conduct quarterly listening sessions with our Black Student Unions and at parent meetings to help us learn what we, as a district, are doing well and where there are areas that we need to improve.

3. Present to superintendents, Curriculum Council, and ELL Regional meetings on regional quantitative and qualitative data and SOBAASS activities on a quarterly basis.

You may reach DL at

Becca Laroi - SOBAASS Family Engagement Specialist

We are so excited to continue having Ms. Laroi in our lives!

Ms. Becca Laroi will continue supporting our district as she facilitates our regional SOBAASS parent nights. Her expertise will help us grow in our services to our Black / African American students and families. She is also one of our Ashland parents as her children attend Walker Elementary.

Here are the details about the next SOBASS parent meeting:

Who: Parents, guardians, family of Black/African American students who attend schools in the Rogue Valley

When: January 19, 2022 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.

How: In person, COVID safety guidelines will be followed.

Where: McLoughlin Middle School

Why: We invite you to join our SOBASS parent meetings to connect with other families, to learn about the services being offered by the regional SOBASS grant, and to collaborate with us to make schools better for our Black/African American students.

For questions about the SOBASS parent meetings, please email Ms. Laroi at

Reminder automated calls will be sent as the date approaches.

Community Announcements

Southern Oregon BASE Business and Services Directory

If you are new to the Rogue Valley, welcome! We also would like to let you know that BASE has gathered a list of Black-owned businesses and service providers in the valley.

As a district, we cannot endorse any of the businesses listed. We simply offer the link below as an existing available resource in the community.

Thank you for being part of our school community!

On behalf of the Ashland School District, I would like to thank you for trusting your most valued treasures, your children, in our care.

One of our ongoing strategic goals is to create and maintain a safe, welcoming, supportive, and inclusive environment for all students, parents, and staff. We recognize that there is much more we need to do. Please consider helping us grow by joining our district EDI Workgroup (application to come soon), participating in the schools' site councils, and attending the parent nights and listening sessions. Your input is invaluable!

You are welcome to contact me anytime with comments, questions, and suggestions. Please see my contact information below. I look forward to hearing from you!