Superintendent Isaac Seevers said student and staff safety is the number one priority of Lebanon City Schools and that they are aware of the comments made online.
“I am asking the public to please refrain from gathering at the school or protesting on or around school grounds,” Seevers said. “If you want to gather as a community during this time, please find another place in town. Please remember that we serve a young student population and some of them may have no idea why adults are gathering in support or opposition on Thursday afternoon. Please allow our staff and students to leave school peacefully and safely.”
District officials said only two students had turned in permission slips as of Wednesday afternoon to participate in the After School Satan Club.
In many religious traditions, the name Satan refers to a devil. The after-school club is an outgrowth of The Satanic Temple, a group that says it does not worship Satan and believes that religion should be divorced from superstition. The group says After School Satan Clubs are presented as alternatives at some public schools where Christian Good News Clubs also operate.
Seevers and district officials have reviewed the school safety plan and met with Lebanon police and other city officials to develop an Emergency Operations Plan for this event that was sent to parents and posted to the district’s website. Those provisions include:
- Protests and unauthorized assemblies are not permitted on school grounds. Groups seeking to form an official protest must contact the City of Lebanon to request a Special Event permit from the city. For additional information, call the city: (513) 932-3060.
- All unauthorized visitors are required to stay off of school grounds and refrain from parking in the school parking lots. If visitors do not comply with this request, they will be asked to leave by school administration and law enforcement.
- The sidewalks along Justice Drive, in the public right of way, have been designated by the city as the place where media and community members are permitted to gather. Parking is not permitted on school grounds, in school parking areas, or in the county parking lots.
- School facilities are used throughout the evening for many different activities and parents will begin arriving to deliver their students for basketball practice and other evening activities after school hours. All doors to Donovan Elementary School will be locked as soon as the staff return to the building following student dismissal after school. Doors will not reopen for evening practices until the building has been cleared following the after school club. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, no one will be permitted to enter the building after school unless they are a staff member, approved sponsor of the club, or students attending the club.
- District administration and a School Resource Officer will be onsite Thursday afternoon assisting with student dismissal and safety in and around the school building at the time of the club meeting. Additional law enforcement officials will be present in the area as well, to ensure the safety of our staff, students, and participants in after school activities.
Seevers asked the public to recognize that the school serves 8- to 10-year-old children. With student dismissal taking place between 3:30 and 4 p.m., the district needs to get students safely out of the building and united with their families or onto school buses.
Seevers said he was on-site this week during dismissal at Donovan Elementary and throughout the entirety of a regularly scheduled after school club that was taking place.
“The building was secure, and we did not permit any unauthorized individuals to enter the facility,” he said. “All groups deserve this same right to peacefully assemble and we ask that you please offer the same level of respect on Thursday afternoon. The district does not and is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities.”