Mad River school board member resigns from state association presidency after comments on systemic racism

Scott Huddle, a member of the Mad River school board who disputed the existence of systemic racism in a meeting last week, has resigned as president of the Ohio School Boards Association.

“Unfortunately, it became apparent to me that continuing as OSBA president would be a distraction from the challenging work that OSBA must accomplish,” Huddle said in a statement. “I believe in the value of public school education, and I have no doubt that OSBA will continue to be a leader for diversity and inclusion.”

Huddle reportedly told parents at a school board meeting that there was no evidence of systemic racism after a school newsletter was distributed with columns, poetry and discussion questions about diversity. He compared the newsletter to critical race theory, calling it “reverse race discrimination” and comparing the articles to Nazi education.

According to an audio recording of the school meeting, Huddle said there is no evidence systemic racism exists and that while no one disputes that oppression has existed, especially during the time of slavery, society has improved.

“We tried to get better with that and change that,” he said. “It’s not perfect. No one’s saying that it is. But to take the other side of that and say no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter what you think, because you have less melanin in your skin you are a racist and you can’t do anything to change it.”

After several objections from teachers, Huddle said he would be willing to host a dialogue regarding systemic racism.

“I obviously realize that my comments touched on some extremely sensitive issues and I want to be able to have a dialogue … and I want to listen to what other people have to say,” Huddle said. “I have heard from many people who have expressed their support and those who don’t.”

He will be replaced by the current President-elect, Robert M. Heard Sr., a member of the Cleveland board of education.

Heard previously said he was considering all sides of the incident.

“This is a time to come together,” Heard said. “We know that one of the advantages for public school students is the opportunity to meet people who are not like them — an experience that pays dividends long after high school. I look forward to building on OSBA’s successes, including being a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

It is not immediately clear if Huddle resigned fully from the OSBA or from his position as president.

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