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Ohio County Schools crafting plan to combat racism, keeping details quiet for now

WHEELING –Ohio County Schools is currently working on a plan to address racism issues in the school district, but the details aren’t yet being made public.

Superintendent Kim Miller spoke of the effort during Monday’s board of education meeting. She said Ron Scott, cultural diversity and community outreach director at YWCA Wheeling, has been brought in to “broaden our conversation on professional learning, student experiences and community engagement in regard to the recent racial issues in our country.”

She also said those involved are keeping ideas discussed quiet “until we can open the curtain.”

“We want a sustainable plan that will have a positive influence on our community,” Miller said. “We don’t want just a one shot event or event. We want something that will be sustainable in our school system.

“We know we can look to Mr. Scott and others to help make us a better school system.”

Scott said he senses actions to improve racial relations and inclusion in Ohio County Schools aren’t just efforts to keep up with trends, and that there is an attempt to formulate lasting policy.

“We’re in a unique time right now, because I’ve never experienced this kind of outpouring of concern — and the want to help and get better,” Scott said.

He said he, Miller and Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones are working on a three-pronged approach addressing racial issues in the school district. The approach focuses on improving racial relations in the community, among students, and among staff.

“The experience could be a rich and lasting one, and that’s the idea I like,” he said. “Normally when issues like this happen, you get that Band-Aid feeling. Now I get the impression we want lasting and sustainable change that makes for a different culture for our students and staff involved with Ohio County Schools. I’m truly proud to be a part of it, and thank you for asking me to help.”

Scott said he likes the idea of keeping details quiet for now, and unveiling it with a great deal of energy and excitement.

“This is landmark stuff for Ohio Valley education. These things aren’t being met, addressed or even talked about in any other school system.”

Jones said they “are purposely being broad” about their plans for addressing racial issues in the school district. The next step is for the policies to be put in writing.

“We have had a lot of conversation, and there are things we are going to lay out in a document with guidelines attached, who is involved and when things are going to happen,” he said. “We can check things off as we are going, and make sure we are not going off-task.”

Board member Sarah Koegler, in her last meeting, suggested any policies created be put in writing for future boards and superintendents to follow.

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