A Win for Taxpayers, Parents…

Should taxpayer dollars be used for teaching students Divisive Concepts?

Why are we trying to Separate Students instead of Uniting Them?

Turpin High School, part of the Forest Hills School District in Eastern Hamilton County, had a Diversity Day planned for March 31, 2022. One of the students working on the agenda shared with their parent the agenda and training materials. Upon reviewing the material, the parent contacted a Forest Hills School District board member to express their concern over the material.

This prompted the board member to request the superintendent to review the material and provide information on how the parents were informed of the speakers and material being presented during diversity day. According to board policy on curriculum development, the Superintendent shall provide an opportunity for parents to review the selection of textbooks and reading lists, instructional materials, and the academic curriculum of the district. As the board and Superintendent discussed what was shared with the parents and how the material was reviewed and approved for instructional use during diversity day, it became clear procedural issues were missed.

As the information was shared with parents and the community, people began questioning how the questions listed below related to the approved curriculum of Forest Hills School District or were relevant to the subject matter being taught, especially since the participants are junior and seniors. These are just five examples of the “Step to the Line Participation Questionnaires” fifty questions including in the diversity day material.

1) Has pimping and prostitution, drugs, or other illegal activities been a major occupational alternative (job) in the community in which you were raised?

2) Did one or both of your parents or guardians attend college?

3) Does your family have health insurance

4) Have you or your family ever had to move because there wasn’t enough money to pay the rent?

5) Do your parents own the house you live in?

On March 30, 2022, the Superintendent agreed they did not follow the required procedures of providing parents with information regarding diversity day at Turpin so he decided to postpone the event. As the board and superintendent discussed next steps for scheduling a revised date, discussions on changes to the program were circulated. People wanted to see more cultural learnings included and an expanded list of learning opportunities.

A revised agenda was circulated but only four questions and two videos removed from the instructional material, it failed to meet the expectations of board members.

The Superintendent felt pressure to select a new date for diversity day and contacted board members to seek alignment on a new date. When the new date was announced, May 18, 2022, several board members expressed concern with moving forward and several members felt like there was a disconnect in their conversation with the Superintendent. One board member requested the board meet, so an emergency session was called.

In the special board meeting, the board discussed how they wanted the event to be more of cultural day and include Anderson High School. The board provided examples of cultural programs used in elementary schools within the district.

However, one board member began questioning if this was an area the board can address, forgetting the board has a policy that parents have a right to understand the materials used in the education of their children. As this board member became more insistent in asking the Superintendent for input, he finally relented and clarified that it does fall under the responsibility of the board, specially calling out the district policy on controversial issues. There is a school policy on how to present a controversial issue. The policy defines a controversial issue as one of the following: (1) any problem that society is in the process of debating, (2) any problems for which more than one solution is being supported, or (3) any issue that may arouse strong emotions. These issues may be a part of the instructional program only when they are germane to the subject being taught and only after consideration has been given to the age and maturity of the students. No individual may impose personal views on the students, and a balance must be maintained through the presentation of all sides of an issue. (Emphasis added).

Several parents questioned how the proposed agenda and questions like the ones above meet the requirements of the policy, especially the section regarding “no individual may impose personal views on the students, and a balance must be maintained through the presentation of all sides on an issue”. The policy also establishes rights for the students including the right to study under qualified instructors in an atmosphere free from bias, prejudice, and intimidation and to form and express opinions on controversial issues without jeopardizing their relation with the teacher or the school. Many parents were concerned their child would be viewed unfavorably by not attending.

The controversial issues policy also includes teacher responsibility in that when discussing a controversial issue, the teacher shall keep in mind that the classroom is a forum and not a committee for procuring resolutions or dogmatic pronouncements. The class should feel no responsibility for reaching an agreement. The teacher has the responsibility to bring out the major facts concerning controversial questions.

As the board shared expectations and requested changes to the agenda and materials it became obvious the people involved with diversity day did not want to conform with the district’s policy on how to address a controversial issue. Board members suggested the program move to after school or on a weekend. With no compromise being sought by those responsible for the agenda, speakers and instructional materials, the board had to take action to assure compliance with district policies.

The board voted on the following motion: That racial Diversity Day at Turpin High School:

(i)                 Shall not proceed during school hours and

(ii)               Shall not be conducted or further organized during school hours or through the use of tax payer resources. This does not preclude the holding of Racial Diversity Day as an after-school or weekend event consistent with the authority for the general public to utilize school premises for public meetings pursuant to Ohio revised Code 3313.77 and School Board Policy 5730. The motion passed 4-0 with one member refusing to vote on the motion.

Why is the Forest Hills School Board Decision so important? 1) District Policies were adhered to, 2) Taxpayer Dollars were not used for this day, 3) Parents Were Listened to, and 4) most important, the regular classwork that we want our students learning like Math, Science, History and English classes was prioritized. A special thank you to the four members of the Forest Hills School Board that adhered to policy and set the correct priorities in place: Bob Bibb, Linda Hausfield, Sara Jonas, and Katie Stewart.

Our elected officials are not helping school boards by providing enforcement help to parents whose children are being exposed to divisive content. You should consider emailing elected officials in the Republican Party that seem to have put education on Auto-pilot in the State of Ohio.

Contact Ohio Governor Mike DeWine–Click Here

Attorney General Dave Yost–Click Here

Contact Ohio House Speaker Robert Cupp–Click Here

Contact Majority Floor Leader of Ohio House Bill Seitz–Click Here

Contact Committee Chairman Scott Wiggam–Click Here

Contact Ohio Senate President Matt Hufffman–Click Here

Contact Senate Education Chairman Andrew Brenner–Click Here

Contact Senate Education Member Louis W. Blessing IIIClick Here

Contact House Education Chairperson Gayle Manning–Click Here

Daniel P. Regenold, Managing Board Member




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