TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Students, teachers and parents joined together Wednesday to have an open conversation about race and racism within the Baltimore County school system.

Baltimore County Schools superintendent Dr. Darryl Williams said this conversation was inspired by students who are calling for education reform and more diversity in the classroom and curriculum.

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Hundreds of young protesters marched through Catonsville last month, demanding more representation in schools, both in Baltimore County and across the country.

The school district came together with its students, virtually, for an honest conversation about racism and its impact on education.

“To honor the brilliance of every student, we need to acknowledge the effect of race on our schools and make decisions that, as I’ve said many times, raise the academic bar, close the gaps and prepare our young people for vibrant futures,” Dr. Williams said.

Dr. Williams said his district is extremely diverse. Almost two-thirds are students of color, and more than 100 countries are represented.

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The panel talked about the importance of recruiting and retaining Black and Brown educators and administrators, learning about African American history, and creating a space to name and dismantle structural racism.

“We need to examine the idea that if any of us is imperiled all of us are imperiled,” Executive Director of Baltimore County Public Schools Department of Equity and Cultural Proficiency, said.

Students were simultaneously sharing on Instagram live where they talked about achievement gaps in standardized tests and their personal experience responding to stereotypes.

“We’re trying to have this outlet where students can talk about racism comfortably,” a Baltimore County Public Schools student said.

Dr. Williams spoke directly to students at the virtual discussion, encouraging them to consider a career in education.

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He said schools need a strong pipeline of diverse young people going on to serve as future teachers and administrators.

Rachel Menitoff