Letter to Finneytown Community Regarding Racial Inequities

Dear Finneytown Students, Staff, and Families,

My heart is heavy. We have all experienced mental, financial, and physical challenges over the past few months with the pandemic. Most recently we’ve been witness to explicit examples of racial tensions that have gripped this country for centuries. The Finneytown Local School District Board President, Tony Gast, and I want to state that we condemn these racist killings and any other such atrocities. All humanity should be outraged with these acts of terror. We want to let our families and the community know that we want to stand with our African American neighbors in solidarity. As educators and parents, we have a responsibility to every child and young adult in our care. When outrages like these continue to happen to African Americans, it harms our society.

These miscarriages of justice represent a systemic problem that must be addressed locally, nationally, and globally. African American students, staff, and community members continually confront challenges others do not face. I am not African American and cannot pretend to know what fears they encounter. While I cannot say that I understand what they feel, I hurt for all. 

We want our students, staff, and community to understand that Finneytown acknowledges that systemic and historical forms of oppression require our ongoing attention, action, innovation, and leadership for positive change. Our district will strive to protect the rights of students of color, understanding that their situation is uniquely theirs in the context of humanity and in the scope of education. We will diligently work to protect the rights of all children. Our leadership team had already been scheduled for equity training this month. This now takes on more urgency as we work to become better advocates for our children. More information will be forthcoming after we devise next steps to train and inform our staff and students. 

Finneytown Local School District is committing to do better. At the least, the district will:

  • *Establish a committee of students, staff, and community members to begin to address how we can accomplish that. This superintendent committee on Cultural Competency will be formed very soon.
  • *Implement diversity and inclusion/sensitivity training for staff and students to help ensure that we have a firm foundation to work from. 
  • *Survey students, staff, and community for perspective and experiences. 
  • *Partner with community organizations to host conversations and discussions on the issues, opportunities, and necessary changes that underlie the systemic issues that surface. We are already in communication with the Springfield Township Police Department to organize an open discussion this summer. We want all citizens in our community to feel and be safe. 

While this is the beginning of the conversation in Finneytown, it is also a call to action and we need your input and help. We must better understand and have empathy for the injustices that have occurred, but also find a way to make the necessary changes in order to move forward and heal. 

As a community, it is more important now than ever that we open our hearts and minds to learn from the past and grow beyond our weaknesses and mistakes. We are a district that promotes Thinking Critically, Growing Intellectually, and Living with Integrity; therefore, we must do everything in our power to responsibly care for all of our students, especially those who have been marginalized in the past. 

Our thoughts are with all persons of color who have been jeopardized and disregarded through centuries of racism. We hope every person in our community will be safe and please take care of each other. Please connect with us if you are in need of assistance.

Respectfully,

Superintendent Terri Noe

Board of Education President Tony Gast