Bexley City Schools names three finalists to lead diversity program

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek USA TODAY Network
Bexley School

Bexley City Schools named three finalists June 11 to be the district's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leader. 

Marcelius Braxon, assistant dean of student affairs at Capital University Law School; Susan Lee, dean of students at Antioch College in Yellow Springs (until 2020); and Joanne Lunceford, probation officer training program faculty for the Supreme Court of Ohio; are the finalists.

“We hope to have this person approved during the June 29 special board meeting," said Tyler Trill, the district's public information officer.

Presiding over his first board of education meeting June 8 as superintendent, Jason Fine said the finalists will face a three-interview process. 

“We will put them in front of three-interview processes," he said. "One will be with community members, one will be with staff members and then the third will be an activity that they will work through with our students – middle school and high school students.” 

Fine said 56 candidates applied for the position.

“I do not believe we had any internal interest in the position," he said. "Through a pre-screening process, we were able to get those candidates from 56 down to 11.”  

Fine said the district asked the 11 candidates to submit a one-page response detailing two to three initiatives they might perform in their first year on the job. Phone interviews were held with those 11 before the list was pared to three finalists.  

Over the past year, Fine said, the district formed a 20-member DEI task force that consisted of students, staff, parents and alumni to craft actions that the board of education may consider including in future policies.  

“Student voices have been and will continue to be instrumental in guiding the district's work as well,” Fine said. “In fact, student input and feedback was instrumental in the completion of grade 6-12 English language arts curriculum audit.”  

Fine said Bexley High School students participated in a student leadership research collaborative through Ohio State University.   

“Students explored and shared their findings with administration on the topics of belonging and equitable access to resources,” he said. “That audit that was completed, that is going to drive some of the work that we're doing as we move forward.”  

The districtwide school climate committee facilitated monthly professional development programs in each school. Faculty, staff and administrators also participated in implicit-bias training through Ohio State’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.  

Many of these efforts were led by Leisan Smith, the district’s former director of student and community engagement, who left earlier this year for a position at the Columbus School for Girls.   

Fine said other future DEI initiatives include a social studies curriculum review, forming committees to improve recruitment and retention of diverse professionals and forming a student group to identify future educators and help diversify the profession.  

Also during the meeting, board members thanked outgoing interim Superintendent Dan Good for leading the district since last fall. The board hired Good when Kimberly Pietsch Miller left to become superintendent of the Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools.  

“I’m certainly committed to supporting your and Bexley’s continued success,” Good told the board.  

Board President Marlee Snowdon also announced that the board’s monthly meetings will resume in-person beginning July 6. Snowdon said the board is exploring how to continue to offer an option to participate in board meetings virtually.  

“We’re going to use equipment that we purchased a couple years ago when we started recording our meetings, and so we'll see how that goes for a month or two,” Snowdon said. “We’ll know more after our July and August meetings what our needs are.”  

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