SACS scraps plan to bring in Diversity Coach following Blackface controversy; pursuing new partnership

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 4:06 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Leaders at Southwest Allen County Schools (SACS) say they are no longer bringing in the Diversity Coach originally set to speak at Homestead High School in March following student protests and are instead moving in a different direction.

“In the initial moments after February 9, we wanted to move as quickly as possible,” SACS Superintendent Park Ginder said. “That turned out to be a mistake. Anytime you’re working with social change, we aren’t going to make changes overnight. We’re talking about a four, five, six-year process of helping all people in our community feel comfortable.”

In February, students at Homestead held a protest after a photo of a white student in Blackface went viral. The school district sent a letter to families on Feb. 19, outlining how the school will address students’ concerns about racism.

BACKGROUND: SACS announces “path forward” following Blackface controversy

In the letter, SACS Superintendent Park Ginder laid out a number of initiatives, including one to bring Diversity Coach Dr. Will Moreland to speak at the school. They originally said he’d visit on March 7 and 8, leading small group discussions and a student assembly.

Ginder says things just “didn’t work out calendar-wise” between the district and Moreland, leading to the district to move on.

However, in an email with 21Alive, Moreland said the district never gave him a reason for moving on. In fact, he sent the following email to 21Alive reporter Alex Null in response to an interview request.

“I made the choice to move on from the situation. There really is no point for me to discuss the matter any further.

I would suggest, you reach out to the SACS Board and see if they have a plan to address the obvious race issues the district has.”

Dr. Will Moreland

Now, Ginder says, the district is looking in a different direction, and looking into working with RISE to Win - a non-profit organization that works to eliminate racial discrimination in the sports community.

Despite the organizations primary focus on student athletes, Ginder is confident they’ll be the right group for the district’s goals.

Some parents are confident too but want to see the district continue working towards a proactive response, and not a reactive one.

“Follow through and accountability is huge and like I said I heard that for the first time tonight and I just hope that it doesn’t get lost over the summer break and we see that continue when school starts in August,” April Gregg, SACS Parent and F.A.C.T.S member said.

Even though the district’s hope is to move forward with RISE to Win, that final decision hasn’t been made. Ginder says the board will vote on that decision at the districts next board meeting on June 6.

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