Final members were announced June 15 for an 18-member steering committee of Hilliard City Schools’ new Inclusivity and Justice Task Force.

Superintendent John Marschhausen and Samantha Chatman, chairperson of the steering committee, worked together to choose interested staff members, parents and community members to serve on the task force, said Stacie Raterman, director of communications for the district.

The steering committee is expected to convene within seven to 10 days, Marschhausen said June 15.

After that, any resident who’s interested in participating will be included in the task force. The task force will include multiple committees and working groups, according to Raterman.

The steering committee’s role will be to lead the task force’s work. The task force as a whole will include anyone who wants to be part of the work, Raterman said.

The district on June 3 announced the “immediate formation” of the task force via hilliardschools.org.

Among the first tasks of the steering committee will be “to listen to the black students and parents” to “learn where the gaps are” and improve the district’s motto to ensure every student “is ready for tomorrow.”

“This will be a multiyear plan. It won’t be fixed by the start of the school year,” Marschhausen said. “It’s not just about how we behave but about our hearts and minds, and it will take time.”

Earlier this month, Marschhausen appointed Chatman, principal of Alton Darby Elementary School, as the district’s diversity and inclusivity coordinator. She also serves as chairperson of the task force.

“This is absolutely the right move, and (Chatman) will be great to lead it,” board member Brian Perry said.

The position of coordinator is an “added duty,” and Chatman will continue as Alton Darby’s principal, Raterman said.

Besides Chatman, the 18-member steering committee includes Mark Abate, board president; Lisa Whiting, board vice president; Michelle Crandall, Hilliard’s city manager; Robert Fisher, Hilliard’s police chief; Mike Abraham, director of student well-being for the district; Nikki Henkel, a district media specialist; Sherise Thompson, a middle school teacher; Hilary Sloat, principal of Horizon Elementary School; Kristen Clausen, Davidson High School assistant principal; Cameron Foster, a high school counselor; Jeremy Markewicz, the parent of an elementary and high school student; Chad Smock, a community business owner and coach; Corina Pierce-Tucker, the parent of an elementary school student and middle school student; Sara Barkley, an elementary school teacher; Lauren Hall, a high school teacher; Joshua Stephens, a psychologist; and Marschhausen.

The steering committee “is as diverse a group as we could find,” Marschhausen said but added that its very selection shows “we still have work to do” in creating more diversity within the community.

The district will join with city leaders, including he 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 Floyd’s 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.

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