The Solon City School District remains fully committed to working on diversity and inclusion and is not teaching Critical Race Theory.
That is part of a statement issued Monday by Solon Board of Education President Julie Glavin following a meeting where parents spoke out once again on diversity, equity and inclusion activities.
“As a board, we felt it important to communicate to district families as well as our community regarding these activities,” Ms. Glavin said. “We will continue to share information about planned diversity and inclusion activities well in advance of student participation to promote family dialogue and informed decisions.”
As school began Wednesday in Solon, Ms. Glavin continued in her statement that the goal of all diversity and inclusion activities mirrors the mission of the district, which involves creating a more inclusive environment where all students feel welcome, supported and accepted.
“Focusing on diversity and inclusion through school activities and teacher training is not new,” the statement continued. “It has been part of our mission since its inception in 1989. We have been working on these issues with students and staff, especially at Solon High School, for many years. As we begin the school year, we believe it is important to clarify the intent and restate our expectations moving forward.”
Those expectations included the following:
The Solon schools remain fully committed to working on diversity and inclusion; classrooms will continue to celebrate the diversity of all students and their families by providing engaging, age-appropriate activities that foster acceptance and inclusion to help students develop and maintain healthy, respectful friendships; Solon High School students will participate in four focused activities with opportunities for discussion to develop understanding and acceptance among students and support their mental health;
We are not teaching Critical Race Theory; we will continue to share information about planned diversity and inclusion activities well in advance of student participation to promote family dialogue and informed decisions, according to the school board.
Parents packed the board office as they have the past several meetings to speak for and against DEI initiatives and programs.
Parent Heather Ferris, president of the Solon High School PTA, thanked the DEI committee for their dedication and patience as they work in conjunction with the schools for a road map for DEI.
The PTA’s commitment to DEI is not a “fly by night idea born by renegade parents” but rather a promise to uphold the values woven into the PTA’s foundation and everything it stands and advocates for.
“As a leader in PTA, I stand firm in my commitment to create an inclusive organization for families and fully support any efforts to create a place where equity and exclusivity are the norm.”
Carmella Juarbe read aloud statements she said were of students who did not feel comfortable to speak. Some of those comments included, “Being a racist is never OK,” “If anything, the lessons are making me tune out more and creating more of a bias;
“I never thought of those labels before and now it’s hard not to,” “Don’t force these lesson on kids; make it optional;” and “Diversity lessons serve no purpose.”
Parent Jennifer Sumerak said she is troubled to see the “push back” on DEI programming.
“These DEI programs help our children be smarter and feel safer and help prepare them for the world,” she said, adding that she hopes DEI programming continues to be developed.
“The DEI program will enable my children to be successful adults,” Sam Barron said.
But parent Katie Egan said, “this pushed agenda has caused division in the community and mistrust for your administration.”
Ms. Egan urged the school board to stop allowing differences of students to be pointed out negatively but rather they should highlight positively their differences and not point blame.
“Is your goal to cause division in this community?” she asked, imploring the board to re-evaluate presentations used at the high school level.
DEI programming is critical to teach children to be “citizens of the world,” Terry Williams said. “I want my children to learn empathy.”
Catherine Catino said parents are not against DEI programs, but some have concerns over the way the topic of racism is being taught.
The way these lessons are taught have the unintended consequences of singling out kids, she said. “We should all be concerned if material of the school makes one child feel bad about themselves.”