Students at Mason High School are calling on their school board to ‘stand by their stated principle’ of inclusive excellence by releasing a resolution opposing Ohio Bill 616 at a board meeting on Tuesday.
Other districts in Ohio have recently condemned the bill, which limits classroom discussion about race, diversity, inclusion, gender identity and sexual orientation. Cincinnati Public Schools was the last to do so at Monday night’s board meeting. The district resolution states bill contradicts Cincinnati schools’ equity and anti-racism policies.
Now students in Mason, a Cincinnati suburb in Warren County that is home to one of the largest districts in the state, hope their district leaders will do the same. A petition launched by students asking the school board to sign a resolution condemning the bill has more than 500 signatures.
“Bill 616 would limit teachers’ ability to provide accurate and balanced information about race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. It does not represent the values of the Mason community,” the petition states. “With the biggest high school in Ohio, Mason has influence.”
House Bill 616 is “poorly written,” “perpetuates racism and discrimination,” and limits resources to address racism in the classroom, reads the Cincinnati school board resolution approved Monday. The board is concerned that the bill will “exacerbate a mental health crisis that already exists in our schools and community as a result of the pandemic.”
The school board, superintendent and Columbus City schools union leaders issued a joint statement earlier in April condemning the bill as “shameful and divisive.”
What do Mason School Board members think?
The Enquirer reached out to each of the five school board members representing Mason City schools, none of whom said they support or oppose the bill.
But district spokeswoman Tracey Carson said the council is “concerned” about the bill which “appears to be another example of Columbus looking for a problem that just doesn’t exist.” The district’s full statement can be found at the bottom of this story.
Some board members sent requests for comment to Carson, who said more information could be shared later Tuesday at the board’s regular business meeting.
“Our board members really appreciate hearing from the public and are always especially grateful to hear directly from our students,” Carson told The Enquirer. “Our board members are looking forward to hearing directly from students tonight, and it’s likely that some of them will have words or thoughts to express during their board feedback portion of the meeting.”
The Mason School Board will meet in executive session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, then open for a public meeting at 7 p.m. The community can attend the meeting in person at Mason High School, located at 6100 Mason Montgomery Road, or watch the meeting. in line.
Full statement from Mason City Schools regarding House Bill 616:
The Masn City Schools Board of Education is always happy to hear students’ stories and perspectives. The MCS Board of Education is also concerned about this bill – and will always oppose any legislation that erodes local control of our district. This bill seems to be another example of Columbus looking for a problem that simply doesn’t exist – certainly not in Mason. Most importantly, our school board affirms our district’s duty to ensure that every Comet (students and staff) is safe and knows they belong in the school.
Cincinnati.com will update this story.