Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights 2-1-22
FEBRUARY 1, 2022, Regular Meeting
- MLK essay contest winners
- OSBA resignation from NSBA
- Superintendent's and treasurer’s reports
Present were Board President Malia Lewis, Dan Heintz, James Posch, Jodi Sourini, and Beverly Wright. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting lasted two hours, 47 minutes.
MLK essay contest winners
The three Heights High winners of the East View United Church of Christ MLK essay contest read their award-winning essays written in response to the question, “What challenges have I had to face in the pandemic as a student?” Their essays covered the new situations and learning environments with which they had to cope: isolation, difficulties with online learning, and the sense of being trapped in thoughts. On the positive side, they mentioned persistence and learning to believe in oneself.
OSBA resignation from NSBA
The Shaker Heights Board of Education was invited to join the CHUH board to share in a discussion with Rick Lewis, CEO, and Robert Heard, President, of the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA). The purpose was to clarify the rationale for OSBA’s resignation from the National School Boards Association (NSBA), which led to the CHUH board choosing not to renew its membership with OSBA.
OSBA represents Ohio public school board members, whereas NSBA represents public school board members throughout the country. Mr. Lewis detailed a number of concerns that OSBA had with NSBA, including mismanagement, increased dues, lack of participation by Ohio school board members in NSBA activities, lack of transparency, and a lack of response to expressed concerns. OSBA’s “last straw” was NSBA’s letter to President Biden regarding the possibility that local law enforcement may need federal assistance in regard to attempts by the public to intimidate school personnel, board members, students, and citizens. The OSBA decided to leave the NSBA and work with other state school board associations to form a new national group.
Mr. Lewis said that OSBA could more effectively use the dues that OSBA pays to NSBA. He also presented the financial benefits that the CHUH school board receives as an OSBA member
At the heart of the matter were two letters: the NSBA letter mentioned above and an OSBA letter, which terminated affiliation with NSBA and claimed that the NSBA letter labeled parents as domestic terrorists. [While the NSBA letter did not single out parents in its discussion of domestic terrorism, the OSBA letter stated, “we reject the labeling of parents as domestic terrorists.”] OSBA claimed NSBA was no longer focused on concerns of local school boards and the principle of local control. Both letters implied that the organizations spoke for their membership. The letters can be found online:
The discussion and comments from both the CHUH and Shaker school boards showed dissatisfaction that OSBA had not polled OSBA member school boards to determine their response to OSBA’s intended action. Board members emphasized that OSBA had not communicated to its members any dissatisfaction with NSBA (including concerns that Mr. Lewis and Mr. Heard cited this evening), and that to include CHUH and other school boards as participants in OSBA’s action against NSBA was wrong. Emmitt Jolly, Shaker Heights school board member, said the OSBA letter seemed aggressive and cited feedback from Ohio school board members, but neither Shaker nor CHUH was consulted. Malia Lewis stated that CHUH is an active member in NSBA and that the person who wrote the letter had not consulted membership and no longer works for NSBA. Some board members were concerned that OSBA’s reasons for leaving were simply political because the NSBA letter cited only the potential need for federal law enforcement assistance.
Board members were also uneasy about the creation of a new national school board group, expressing worry that the new group would comprise states with very conservative political agendas, which would not reflect the concerns of the Shaker and CHUH communities.
Superintendent's and treasurer’s reports
The Title IX sexual harassment committee has met.
A $200,000 scholarship fund has been endowed by Dr. Kaiserman-Abramof in memory of Sergio Abramof. The scholarship will be serviced by the Heights Schools Foundation.
The district has received the Auditor of State Award with Distinction after completing the previous six-month audit.
Upcoming meetings include a work session on Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium, and Superintendent Kirby’s State of Our Schools address on March 16 at 7 p.m.
LWV Observers: Robin Koslen and Rosemarie Fairman.
Documents for all board meetings can be accessed from the Board of Education webpage: www.chuh.org/BoardofEducation.aspx. Go to “BoardDocs” in the menu; on BoardDocs go to “MEETINGS” in the top menu; click on “Agenda.” Board meetings are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/CHUHSchools) and recorded for later viewing.