SACS School Board members meet for the first time since racist image went viral

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 11:15 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Tonight, board members of Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) met for the first time since a photo of a white student at Homestead High School depicted in blackface went viral on social media.

BACKGROUND: SACS Superintendent discusses how to stop racism in school - SACS parents, students organize meeting to discuss Blackface controversy - Homestead parents and students hold demonstration - Protest held at Homestead regarding offensive social media post depicting blackface

Some parents attended Tuesday’s meeting to advocate for minority students.

“When you feel like you’re not being heard, what better form than the school board that you’re trying to address,” April Gregg said.

Gregg is a member of a group called F.A.C.T.S, which stands for “Freedom Against Cultural Transgressions in Schools”. The group was created to protect minority students from facing discrimination in school.

F.A.C.T.S members say there’s work to be done in that area, and that it starts with better communication from administrators.

“I’m a very engaged and active parent and so I just want that same energy to reciprocate with me,” Ashley Washington, F.A.C.T.S Board Member, said. “Especially when there’s things of this magnitude going on within the schools.”

SACS Superintendent, Park Ginder, says administrators are working on listening to, and learning from, parents and students.

“All of us are learning, all of us are faulty,” Ginder said. “So, having our faults, or having some things challenged is going to be a good thing for us long term, and we’ll just keep working at it.”

F.A.C.T.S members say part of the issues is that minority students face harsher punishments in schools. 21Investigates dove into the data last month, which showed black students were being suspended at higher rates.

Gregg and Washington both say they wish student punishments were more consistent across the board.

“It’s not obviously about white versus black, cause I’m standing here next to my new sister,” Gregg said. “It’s just about equality in the punishment.”

As for what’s next for the district, Superintendent Ginder sent a letter home to parents outlining the plan. The Minority Student Union at Homestead High School will work with other students to foster understanding, which includes hosting culture nights and celebrating minority history.

The district is also bringing in Diversity Coach Will Moreland, who will lead a student assembly and group discussions next month.