SHELBY — The message is clear: Racism is not to be tolerated in Shelby City Schools.
The Shelby Board of Education approved a resolution condemning racism and affirming the board''s commitment to an inclusive education environment at their July 27 meeting.
"This is a very important issue, and we want to make sure it's addressed properly and let people know where we stand on this issue," Supt. Tim Tarvin prefaced before reading a statement.
In the statement, Tarvin began by acknowledging any student or staff member who may have experienced racial discrimination or social injustice while enrolled in or employed by Shelby City Schools.
"Let me emphasize that racial harassment and discrimination are illegal, prohibited by board policy, and will not be tolerated," Tarvin said. "That is, an individual cannot discriminate against another individual simply because of their color, creed, sex, gender, disability status, national origin or race."
On behalf of the board, Tarvin noted equal access to a high-quality public education is a right of all Ohioans, and the district has a responsibility to provide and create an education setting that is inclusive to all individuals.
"We will continue to work diligently to create and foster an environment that is welcoming and safe for all," Tarvin said. "We do this because we know we are stronger together.
"To that end, as we plan for the 2020-2021 school year, please know that the Shelby City Schools district will continue to cultivate and nurture cultural awareness and promote equity among all of our students and staff, as well as champion the rights of those who may experience any form of racial injustice, racial discrimination or social injustice."
This is not the first reckoning Shelby has had with racism this year. At the June 15 meeting of Shelby City Council, Mayor Steve Schag issued a statement renouncing "hatred, racial bigotry and racial discrimination," five days after racist comments were yelled at a group of Black Lives Matter protestors in downtown Shelby.
The man who yelled the comments, Gregory Dick, was later cited for disorderly conduct due to his behavior towards the protestors. He later pled guilty to the charge by waiving his court hearing and choosing instead to pay the $135 fine for the minor misdemeanor.
Tarvin said he felt strongly about the resolution condemning racism, and was confident the board echoed his sentiments.
"We're going to model and pursue appropriate behavior. It's just the right thing to do," he said.
To that end, Tarvin said that cultural awareness and diversity training will be put in place for both staff and students in Shelby City Schools this coming school year. Similar initiatives and resolutions have also been replicated in districts across Richland County, including Ontario and Mansfield.
Any training and development that happens will take place either via Zoom or in small groups with social distancing in place in keeping with the safe reopening plan for the district this year.
Tarvin reiterated the importance of taking a stand as a school district.
"We believe as a school district it’s our responsibility to give our kids opportunities, inform them of issues and make them better, well-educated citizens," he said.
"We think addressing this issue will pay dividends for our kids, our school district and our community by making them more understanding so they have a wider perspective of what’s going on in the world, and why these things matter to lots of people."