By the end of the week, Hilliard City Schools leaders might announce more details about the scope of a new Inclusivity and Justice Task Force.
As of Monday, June 8, the details are “still being worked out,” Stacie Raterman, director of communications.
Task-force members will be named at the next Hilliard school board meeting June 15, according to Superintendent John Marschhausen.
The district on June 3 announced the “immediate formation” of the task force via its website, hilliardschools.org.
Marschhausen appointed Samantha Chatman, principal of Alton Darby Elementary School, as the district’s diversity and inclusivity coordinator.
Chatman will serve as chairperson of the task force, according to Marschhausen.
The position of coordinator is an “added duty,” and Chatman will continue as principal at Alton Darby, Raterman said.
The district will join with city leaders, including the Hilliard Division of Police, “in a commitment to open dialogue and purposeful action,” according to the website, which cites the death of George Floyd as an impetus for the initiative.
Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died May 25 during an incident that involved Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for almost nine minutes after Floyd had been arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. A bystander recorded the incident with cellphone video.
Marschhausen said the work could not begin too soon.
“As a society and country, we have waited too long,” he said. “We can’t wait any longer. Our goal is to hear from our black community and start providing the training and professional development needed to have tough conversations in our classroom.
“It goes beyond policies; it goes to hearts and minds. If our mission is to prepare every student to be ‘ready for tomorrow,’ in America today, ‘ready for tomorrow’ demands change, and our hope is to start that change in our classrooms.”
School board President Mark Abate said he would be a member of the task force, adding that the district’s “ready for tomorrow” motto extends beyond academics.
“‘Ready for tomorrow’ is not just a slogan about reading and math skills,” he said. “It is a promise to build a better future for, and with, our students. Our children are watching, and as leaders, we must stand up, be willing to engage in challenging conversations and champion change.
“I am excited to be part of this task force and believe it is the right thing to do. I look forward to working with our staff, students and community on this issue.”