- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 21, 2015

LEBANON, Ohio (AP) - Members of a community nonprofit organization urged school officials in a suburban Cincinnati school district to implement anti-racism training for students and start a larger conversation about racism within the community.

About a dozen members of Martin Luther King Community Coalition of Lebanon offered to help implement training for students, faculty and staff at the Lebanon City Schools board meeting, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported (https://cin.ci/1Gele4n).

A Lebanon mother of biracial children said school administrators ignored complaints of racial harassment and bullying of her children in a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on April 13. Heather Allen cited nine incidents in her federal complaint in the past school year about racial slurs and threats directed at her children in both high and junior high schools.

The complaint was filed after the posting of an Instagram photo containing a racist caption and threat.

Current programs in place at district schools include role playing with puppets for children in younger grades, school administrators said, while older students attend assemblies, workshops and receive lesson plans focused on social justice issues.

Renee Forrester, a Lebanon graduate whose children attended Lebanon High School, said she doubts the effectiveness of the programs.

“They’re doing a great job of addressing issues, but addressing racism? I don’t know. They talked about bullying and said something about diversity, but didn’t really explain how they’re going about it,” she said

Lebanon school officials did not immediately respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

Board President Donna Davis-Norris said school officials were investigating the issues raised and that board members had received a copy of Allen’s complaint.

She declined to address the allegations due to student privacy and potential litigation issues, but Davis-Norris said Lebanon school administrators take prompt action against reports of racism and bullying, and they offer a safe and welcoming environment.

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Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, https://www.enquirer.com


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