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Forest Hills superintendent candidate drops out after ‘culture of kindness’ resolution passes

Candidate for Superintendent Withdraws After Forest Hills Anti-Racism Vote
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 1:32 PM EDT
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ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WXIX/Enquirer) - A candidate for Forest Hills superintendent withdrew his name Thursday morning after the school board passed a resolution against critical race theory and anti-racism practices being implemented in the district, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Russ Fussnecker is currently the superintendent of Edgewood City Schools in Butler County, the Enquirer reported Thursday. He was one of five finalists competing for Scot Prebles’ job. Prebles will leave Forest Hills next month and become superintendent of Bay Village City Schools near Cleveland.

“In light of the Board action taken at the meeting last night, I have decided that my leadership style would not take Forest Hills in the direction it appears to be going,” Fussnecker wrote in an email to Forest Hills administrative assistant Jodie McKinley, the Enquire explained.

More Coverage | Forest Hills school board passes resolution banning anti-racism

“As a result, I am withdrawing my name as a candidate for the Forest Hills School District Superintendent,” Fussnecker wrote. “I appreciate the opportunity to interview for the position and wish you well in your continued search for your next leader.”

The Forest Hills School Board on Wednesday passed a so-called “culture of kindness” resolution banning “anti-racism” curricula and critical race theory in schools with a 3-2 vote.

Per the resolution, according to our media partners at the Cincinnati Enquirer, teachers will not be allowed to give assignments that nudge students to consider their race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, or culture as derogatory, to force kids to “admit privilege of oppression,” or to reflect, deconstruct or confront their identities.

The board meeting grew contentious, and at one point following public comment, the board halted proceedings to mollify the attendees. Some parents stormed out of the meeting after the vote.

The newly adopted resolution includes the following guidelines:

  • Schools may not use race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, ethnicity, or culture as a consideration when hiring or administering academic programs or evaluation systems.
  • Neither schools, nor instructors or guest speakers, shall have student participate in class or complete assignments that require, guide, or nudge the student to consider his or her race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, or culture as a deficiency or a label to stereotype the student as having certain biases, prejudices or other unsavory moral characteristics or beliefs based on these immutable characteristics.
  • Schools shall not discipline differently on the basis of race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, or culture.
  • Schools shall not engage in stereotyping based upon race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, or culture, including ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or belief.
  • Schools shall not force individuals to admit privilege or oppression, or to “reflect,” “deconstruct,” or “confront” their identities based on race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual preference, ethnicity, or culture.

Critical race theory is a college-level legal theory but critics believe it has influenced K-12 curriculum and policies around race, diversity and equity in Ohio’s K-12 schools, the Enquirer writes.

There are now four finalists in the search for Forest Hills School District’s next school leader, according to the Enquirer. They are:

  • John Eckert, director of business operations and culture and climate coordinator at Forest Hills.
  • Larry Hook, superintendent of Springboro Community City School District.
  • Aaron Marshall, CEO and principal of La Salle High School.
  • Chris Piper, superintendent of Troy City Schools.

The Enquirer is reaching out to the other finalists to confirm their ongoing candidacy in light of Wednesday’s board meeting.

There is a planned rally for community members “to make their voices heard” to the remaining superintendent candidates at 5 p.m. at the district’s main office on Beechmont Avenue, according to an email sent to FOX19 NOW Thursday.

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