DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A group gathered outside the district building for Dayton Public Schools Friday to voice their concerns about a contentious board meeting this week.
Tuesday night, at the DPS Board meeting, things got heated during discussion about the board’s decision to place law enforcement at school sporting events. Comment time was limited to one minute per person, reportedly due to high volume.
Friday, members of the group Racial Justice Now, said they feel like it was an attempt to silence them.
“You are put in place to advocate for our community and our children,” said Anthony Roebuck. “You’re supposed to put in place policies and procedures to educate and also protect our children, and if you can’t pay attention to us, how can we expect you to do your job properly.”
Later on Friday, the Dayton Board of Education President Dr. Adil Baguirov issued this statement:
The Dayton Board of Education is accountable to all stakeholders, voters and taxpayers in the city of Dayton and works for the success of every one of its 14,000 children, without exception.
In January of this year the Board approved a $5,000 contract with local law enforcement to provide services at games and special events throughout the semester following a decision by the district’s Athletic Board of Control. This move is widely supported, not only by the school’s administration and coaches, but by the public attending DPS sporting events, and is standard practice by many school districts throughout Ohio and the nation.
We also fully support implementation of Positive School Climate, having approved $782,000 for staffing in 10 of our schools this year. The program focuses on creation of safe, supportive school climates that provide school-wide behavioral expectations, restorative practices, and support of students’ social and emotional development.
We are driven to promote student success and improvement of the school district as a whole, including the issues of social justice, and I have personally testified before the Ohio Senate regarding issues negatively impacting our students, specifically on the Ohio zero tolerance law, as well as suspension and expulsion rates – being the only school board member in Ohio to testify. The Dayton Board of Education was once again the only board in Ohio to support SB 167 by unanimously adopting a resolution in 2014 to seek reduction of suspensions and reforming the zero tolerance law.
The Board acted in full accordance with Ohio law and policy when all speakers’ time, without exception, was condensed to allow for all of the 21 speakers to be heard during the hearing of the public segment at our Feb. 16 meeting. With Board meetings lasting two hours, the public hearing segment is traditionally 15-20 minutes, and it is the long-standing policy of this Board – unlike many other Boards – to hear everyone while also respecting the agenda and time of all in attendance.
The Board announced already during the Feb 16 meeting that it will hold a special meeting, separate from our business meeting, dedicated to this issue, when all concerned can be heard. We are looking at sometime in early March.
This all started after fights broke out at high school games and security concerns were raised. The activists contend most of the kids involved weren’t from DPS, and that law enforcement presence isn’t the answer.
The two sides have scheduled a special meeting next month to further discuss the matter.