St. Louis City School Board

Antionette ‘Toni’ Cousins

Age: 49

Neighborhood: Walnut Park East/West, Buder Park, Gates District 

Occupation: Community Outreach Manager, MHDC

Political experience: None

Your take on opening schools during COVID-19: The first priority should be the safety of our students, teachers, and other school personnel. I think it is possible to reopen the schools as long as the appropriate safety precautions and procedures are implemented and executed daily. This includes making sure vaccination are obtained, appropriate PPE are available, safety procedures and mandates are enforced, and our schools are cleaned and sanitized daily. A lot of our children are struggling with online learning, and it is our responsibility to make sure they stay on point with their education while being in a safe and healthy environment. 

Your take on the use and closure of existing school properties: Our primary focus should on how we can use various resources that the district and community has to revitalize the school buildings. These buildings can be used for other specialized services that will assist the families, other businesses, and the communities in which the schools are located? They could be and should be focus points in the communities for health and recreation, mental health services, and safe zones for the people in the community.

Your take on reducing crime and violence in the school system: I believe in restorative practices that would engage the community with police officers that would hopefully rebuild the trust between the two. This will help them work together to fight crime that flows from the community into the school. Restorative justice practices will allow the community and schools to take an active parts in fighting crime inside and the surrounding areas of the school.

Also, funds must be allocated to provide for intense trainings as well as new procedures to be put in place after these trainings to assist the school personnel to deal with de-escalation, mental health issues, trauma, and biases and inequalities (opportunities and resources for parents and communities).

Your take on ending inequity within the school district: As a district we must remove barriers such as the disproportionate number of black and brown students in special education, receiving disciplinary actions, and placement in gifted programs as well as the low representation in advanced placement courses. Without barriers you would not have to worry about leveling the playing field or creating equality. When you remove those barriers, true liberation exists.   

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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