Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 @ 10:18 AM
By: Michael Clark - Staff Writer
DEERFIELD TWP. — The leader of Kings Schools recently announced a plan to battle bigotry in the wake of basketball jersey incident that included racist names and drew a national outcry of criticism.
Kings Superintendent Tim Ackermann said in a statement the members of the embattled Warren County school system “need to work on changing mindsets.”
The largely white school district now has a “Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan” that will include “four pillars with goals and timelines to achieve the goals. The pillars include recruiting, awareness, community, and engagement,” wrote Ackermann.
“The new plan will encompass every student and staff member in the district. We know we have work to do. It won’t happen overnight. We will need to work on changing mindsets. Mistakes will be made but we will grow and learn together. Our goal is to bring the community together and to not divide,” he said.
There were no further details provided on the plan as to its schedule or content of its programs.
Included in Ackermann’s statement were quotes from Kings High School Principal Doug Leist, who said, “we have to own that there is a problem with unreported cases of sexism, bigotry, racism, bullying, religious divide, and division between social classes. It is here, it is everywhere. It is in Kings but it is not Kings.”
Ackermann said, “Leist is committed to making a change in the culture and mindset at Kings High School.”
“We will realize that actions speak louder than words, and we will become champions of tolerance,” said Leist.
The announcement comes two weeks after some Kings male students were shown wearing basketball jerseys with racist names.
For multiple games, the teens – Kings High School students playing in a youth league not affiliated with the school district but using local school gyms – wore jerseys seen by dozens if not hundreds of parents, fans, friends and others.
They all saw a player whose jersey name on the back was “Knee Grow” play next to a teammate identified by his uniform as “Coon.”
And they played on a squad they – along with their adult coaches – dubbed “Wet Dream Team.”
But it took those multiple games before anyone spoke up about the thinly veiled racist terms.
The aftermath of those revelations also forced the resignation of Kings Board of Education Vice President Kerry McKiernan, who in an emotional confession announced his intention to resign a few days after the jerseys came to light.
A father of one of the boys on the team, McKiernan said he failed in his responsibilities by not objecting to the jerseys when they were first unveiled.
Ackermann’s statement concluded with, “we will continue to update the community regularly on the progress we are making with our Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan.”
“The Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, which was formed over a year and a half ago has created a draft Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan that will eventually be presented to the Kings School Board for approval,” wrote the superintendent.
Kings officials told this news organization that 24 applicants have applied to fill the school board’s vacant seat.
The remaining four school board members will interview candidates starting early morning Jan. 31 and expect to take a final vote on whom will replace McKiernan late that evening.