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Cincinnati Public Schools to combat racism against Black students, staff in new policy

'We need to have the guts to call it out and that’s where this came from'
Posted at 5:04 PM, Aug 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 21:28:42-04

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Public Schools hopes to be the first district in Ohio to adopt a specific anti-racism policy that focuses on how racism affects its Black students and staff. It's an ambitious goal, and school board members want help getting it right.

“This will be a big policy, and it requires a ton of conversation and input,” said CPS school board member Mike Moroski. “This is not something that happens in the general counsel’s office and then is passed by board members.”

The board started working on the policy in early June, and Moroski estimates it could take a year for it to be finalized. Although there is a draft already available, board members will get public feedback and make changes as they move forward.

Once it’s adopted, Moroski said, he wants the policy to be a road map for the future.

“When this current group of seven board members are gone and Laura Mitchell is gone, that the other seven and that new superintendent, when they’re in those seats, they have to abide by this,” Moroski said.

CPS already has an equality policy that is all-encompassing and addresses racism and other related topics. The new, more specific, policy would focus on fighting racism against Black students and staff.

“We’re hyper-focused on the students and their education and how Black students are disproportionately affected by racism and structures of racism than white students,” Moroski said. “The same goes for building administrators, teachers -- this is a sickness that we would like to purge CPS of."

The board met Friday afternoon to discuss the draft policy and figure out how to meet the goal of overcoming the racist structures that are in place in the district. Moroski said the aim isn’t to punish or coddle CPS students but instead to educate them.

“But the days we live, in this reality today, racism defines all of our systems, and here is how you are a small cog in that wheel and here is an opportunity to be disruptive,” he said.

The board said it will be transparent about and deliberate about the process of finalizing the policy, which includes gathering public feedback and making adjustments if needed. Friday it decided to put together a 21-person working group to review the policy, which will include students, parents, staff and community groups. This group will meet at least once before the next policy committee meeting on Sept. 4.

“There’s been a lot of sunlight on this policy already, and there’s going to need to be a lot more to get it right,” Moroski said.

To view a copy of the draft policy, click here