Forest Hills ‘Culture of Kindness’ resolution stipulated until federal court decision made

The Forest Hills school board will vote Wednesday evening on a resolution that would ban...
The Forest Hills school board will vote Wednesday evening on a resolution that would ban critical race theory and anti-racism curriculum on June 22.(Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 3:36 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The Forest Hills Local School District Board agreed not to enforce the “Culture of Kindness” resolution that would ban anti-racism curriculum in the classroom on July 21.

The plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against Forest Hills School Board announced the stipulation was agreed upon by all parties, preventing the school board from enforcing the resolution while the case is in federal court.

“We are pleased that the Board agreed to this stipulation because it recognizes the need for clarity for students, teachers and staff as the new school year is less than a month away,” plaintiff and teacher in Forest Hills Sarah Updike stated. “We believe this is the first step toward repealing this resolution which clearly contradicts educational best practices and is harmful to the students, staff and community at large.”

The school board passed a resolution on June 22 banning anti-racism, critical race theory, intersectionality and identity curriculum from student instruction and staff training.

“This is the first victory in the battle against this illegal and unconstitutional resolution, but the struggle continues,” plaintiff and mother of a Forest Hills student Natalie Hastings said. “We ask the community to continue putting pressure on the Board to stop these political machinations against what’s best for our students and to stop promoting fear of reprisal among the staff.”

Earlier this year, hundreds of students at Turpin High School walked out of school after the school board canceled “Racial Diversity Awareness Day.” In addition, more than 2,500 people in the community signed a petition created by Hastings, asking the school board to repeal the “Culture of Kindness” resolution.

“Our biracial, LGBT teen feels like this resolution will ‘erase’ him and deny his right to talk about his unique experiences,” mother of a Forest Hills student Jen Ciolino said. “Our family believes this radical, illegal school board action is out of touch with the broader community that has welcomed us.”

The Forest Hills School District Board gave this statement to FOX19 NOW:

The Forest Hills Local School District Board of Education agreed today with Plaintiff’s counsel to stipulate that the Board and the Administration would refrain from proceeding to adopt, modify, address or implement any new policies in relation to the Board’s resolution to “Create a Culture of Kindness and Equal Opportunity for All Students and Staff.”  The Resolution is a subject of a lawsuit in federal court filed against the Board in July. The Board agreed to pause any of these actions and to allow the Court time to rule on the merits of the case.

The Board intends to vigorously defend the Resolution’s validity and the Board’s legal authority to adopt the Resolution that promotes kindness and equality for students and staff.  However, the Board is fully aware and understands that the Board will be required to adopt official policies and procedures for the implementation of the vision set forth by the Resolution.  It will be necessary to work closely with the administration, staff, and stakeholders to ensure that Forest Hills continues to be a place where students can learn in an environment and culture of kindness and equality.”

The Board, through Counsel, intends to prepare and file with the court, a motion to dismiss the matter and to eventually dispose of the case.”

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