Springboro graduates pressing school district to do more against institutional racism

Christine Page is one of three 2013 Springboro High graduates pressing the  school district to do more to combat institutional racism.

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Christine Page is one of three 2013 Springboro High graduates pressing the school district to do more to combat institutional racism.

Three Springboro High graduates are pressing local school officials to go further in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The trio has collected nearly 300 signatures on an on-line petition urging the district to take “a stronger stance” against racial Injustice.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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3 Springboro graduates pressing school board, circulating on-line petition to do more to combat institutional racism

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

On June 9, the school board posted a statement on Facebook following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked protests and other sometimes violent responses across the U.S.

“Over the past several days, we have watched protests call for equality after the tragic, and unjust, killing of George Floyd. Numerous people of all ages and backgrounds engaged in nonviolent, peaceful protests to speak out against racism and injustice,” the Springboro school board statement begins.

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Christine Page is one of three 2013 Springboro High graduates pressing the school district to do more to combat institutional racism.

Credit: Contributed

Christine Page is one of three 2013 Springboro High graduates pressing the  school district to do more to combat institutional racism.

Credit: Contributed

Combined ShapeCaption
Christine Page is one of three 2013 Springboro High graduates pressing the school district to do more to combat institutional racism.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

Noting one event was set up at a local park by Springboro students, the statement continues:” Unfortunately, we’ve also witnessed violence in communities across our nation, as a response to the failure to recognize all people as equal under the law.”

“Springboro Schools stands in solidarity with the fight against racial injustice. We do not condone racism or violence. With a long-standing Board of Education policy on equity and non-discrimination, as well as diversity training programs centered around cultural competency, Springboro Schools is committed to promoting a culture of respect, tolerance, and inclusion for all people.”

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The statement then acknowledged the importance of helping students empathize with the movement and prepare them to join those fighting racial injustice with non-violence.

“Current events demonstrate both the urgency and fundamental importance of embedding in our schools the values and importance of eliminating racism and implicit bias, the principle of identifying and closing inequities in educational opportunities and achievement, and the urgency of promoting thoughtful expression and moral courage. While exposure to diversity in our own classrooms and workforce leaves more to be desired, we recognize this is a journey that will require us to continue to listen and grow as a school community.”

Olivia Watts, Christine Page and Brittney Elliott emailed the school board urging it to share the post on other platforms and make sure Springboro students saw the statement. The three graduates also urged the board to “explicitly state that Black lives matter and make a plan “to ensure that Black students and other students of color feel welcomed and valued in Springboro schools,” according to Watts.

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Springboro High School Principal Kyle Martin, right, is part of a community group of local leaders looking for ways to identify inclusion and diversity and work with students and staff, including two who have created a presentation, on these issues. Here he is pictured trying out 3D puzzles designed and manufactured by students in 2015. CONTRIBUTED

Springboro High School Principal Kyle Martin, right, is part of a community group of local leaders looking for ways to identify inclusion and diversity and work with students and staff, including two who have created a presentation, on these issues.
Here he is pictured trying out 3D puzzles designed and manufactured by students in 2015.
CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
Springboro High School Principal Kyle Martin, right, is part of a community group of local leaders looking for ways to identify inclusion and diversity and work with students and staff, including two who have created a presentation, on these issues. Here he is pictured trying out 3D puzzles designed and manufactured by students in 2015. CONTRIBUTED

On July 25, after there was no response from the school board, the web site and on-line petition drive were launched “to gather support for our movement,” according to Watts.

Board President Jamie Belanger then responded, apologizing for the slow response and indicating a committee was being formed to focus on diversity and inclusion.

Watts, Page and Elliott responded and continued trying to broaden their effort.

On Thursday, they planned a Zoom meeting with a member of Parents Empowering Child Of Color (PECOC), a group formed in Springboro and working in the area on similar issues, including a celebration of Springboro’s heritage with the Underground Railroad movement, which helped slaves to freedom in the mid-1800′s.

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While sympathetic about uncertainty surrounding starting school with COVID-19, the graduates expressed hope the district would also move forward against racial injustice.

“It’s important that they look at both issues at once,” Elliott said in a virtual interview on Zoom.

The school board has formed a committee “to focus on practical ways we can address diversity and inclusion within our district,” according to a statement in an email response.

In addition, Springboro High Principal Kyle Martin and Dennis Elementary Principal Terrah Hunter are a part of a community group of local leaders looking for ways “to identify inclusion and diversity.” Martin and Hunter also work with students and staff, including two who have created a presentation, on these issues.

Also a “Minority Student Union” group is being developed at the high school, in addition to an existing LGBTQ+group.

In 2018 and 2019, all district administration completed an in-person cultural competence training program centered on eliminating racism and “implicit bias.”

“The district wholeheartedly agrees that while words obviously do matter, our actions will be the real measure of commitment towards the district’s focus on diversity, inclusion, implicit bias, and the elimination of racism,” Scott Marshall, district coordinator, concluded the response.

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