Kings school board adds first black member after racist jerseys incident

KINGS MILLS, Ohio -- In the wake of a nationally spotlighted racist incident -- causing the resignation of a Kings school board member -- the board Wednesday appointed the school system’s first African-American into the vacant seat. 

After a marathon 14-hour day of interviews of a district record 24 candidates, the Kings Board of Education voted unanimously to have Kings school parent Stacie Belfrom fill the remaining two years of former board Vice President Kerry McKiernan’s term.

Stacie Belfrom. Photo provided.

Belfrom, who is cyber security delivery manager for DXC Technology, has coached in Kings youth sports programs, volunteered for school activities and told the board he has followed their meetings closely during his 13 years as a resident in the Warren County school district. 

Though the recent turmoil over racist basketball jerseys worn by some Kings High School students in a non-school youth league caused the board seat to open, Belfrom exclusively the Journal-News late Wednesday evening he was not a single-issue candidate focused solely on race relations.

“It’s important to have diversity and inclusive in Kings, but I did not apply as a single issue candidate,” said Belfrom, who also told the board he wanted to continue Kings’ long-standing status as one of Southwest Ohio’s top academic districts. 

“I went for the seat because I saw a need and I just want to help,” said Belfrom, a graduated of Purdue University. 

For multiple games, the teens – Kings students playing in a youth league not affiliated with the school district but using local school gyms – wore jerseys seen by dozens if not hundreds of parents, fans, friends and others. 

One jersey had a name on the back that read “Knee Grow.” Another teammate’s uniform said “Coon.” 

And they played on a squad they – along with their adult coaches – dubbed “Wet Dream Team.” 

RELATED: Kings Local Schools superintendent on jerseys: 'We have to do better'

But it took multiple games before anyone spoke up about the thinly veiled racist terms. 

Belfrom described the jerseys as an “unfortunate incident.” 

“But it’s not indicative of this community,” he said. 

The Kings board came out of executive session just before 10 p.m., after starting interviews at 8 a.m. Wednesday. 

Belfrom, who has not previously held public office, was told by phone of the board’s decision. 

He will be sworn in during the board’s Feb. 13 meeting and will serve through Dec. 31, 2019.

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