In this video, board members Leslie Rasmussen and Sara Jonas discuss the "Culture of Kindness" resolution. Jonas states she authored the resolution. Her deposition under oath states differently. Read below for additional details of this story.
Jonas testifies she is not the author of the resolution
In late 2022, a lawsuit against the Forest Hills School District suing to rescind the controversial and divisive 'Culture of Kindness' resolution was brought forth.
Community members widely panned the document as harmful to staff & students, and risky to the district. Despite protests, emails asking for the resolution to be rescinded, national and international negative news coverage, damage to their personal reputations and expensive lawsuits as well as the predictable impact to voter turnout to the levy vote in May - Board members Hausfeld, Bibb, and Stewart seem inexplicably committed to this misguided Resolution.
Recently, depositions were taken from Superintendent Larry Hook, Board Member Sara Jonas, and Board member Dr. Leslie Rasmussen. Depositions are available for the public to read here.
Cincinnati Enquirer's Education reporter, Maddie Mitchell, published an article Wednesday, February 15 2023, following up with a summary of the depositions.
The depositions are disheartening. The statements taken under oath expose conflicting claims of that the Resolution is "unenforceable", but per the depositions, incidents of enforcement and attempted enforcement have occurred against staff & students causing demonstrable harm - the depositions outline at least four instances of action taken against staff and students.
The resolution has also brought negative press to the district locally, nationally and internationally.. In addition to our local press, national & international media went viral as a TikTok video of Sara Jonas defending "Anti-anti-racism" had over 5 million views and thousands of comments. Nationally, Newsweek covered the video, and an article in the Herald Sun, an Australian publication, ensured international scrutiny as well.
Sara Jonas reportedly received emailed threats following the publications of her actions, which this group vehemently condemns. Knowing all of this, any reasonable person would question why the board insists on defending the document at all ... but there may be some insight in page 130 of Sara Jonas' deposition.
When questioned about the origins of the document, Sara Jonas under oath stated she merely 'typed' the Resolution - a clear conflict with her public statement at a public board meeting, June 22, 2022 (audio available on YouTube, at 1:32:00) where she claimed, "I am the one who authored it."
Jonas' states that Megan Fullen, a community member, 'helped draft' the Resolution of Kindness on page 130 of the deposition. Jonas explains Megan Fullen began helping with the drafting of the Resolution as early as November, 2021. Jonas also explains they often met at Fullen's home.
Last night at the 8/17/2022 regular meeting of the Forest Hills School District Board of Education, Dr. Leslie Rasmussen proposed a motion to repeal the "Resolution to Create a Culture of Kindness and Equal Opportunity for All Students and Staff." The motion came after the board was presented with a change.org petition signed by just over 3,000 residents of the Forest Hills School District. In a surprise move, board member Katie Stewart — who originally voted AGAINST the resolution — refused to second the motion to repeal it. This has led to speculation that she is actually for the resolution that censors students and teachers from talking about diversity of all kinds in the classroom, essentially erasing the ability for students to get to know each other and create understanding and empathy.
Honesty for Ohio Education put out a statement early this morning condemning the lack of action at the board meeting. Advocate FHSD supports and highlights this statement. The resolution is no good for the students and the overall reputation of our beloved school dstrict.
It is clear that the Forest Hills community does not want the toxic ‘Culture of Kindness’ resolution poisoning their schools. This brazen act of disrespect for the students, families and educators by refusing to hold a vote against the resolution is yet another attempt by extremist elected officials to hold honest education hostage and weaponize race and identity,” says Cynthia Peeples, founding director of Honesty for Ohio Education.
Advocate Sarah Crable recently had a beautifully written opinion published by The Cincinnati Enquirer. To support her self-initiated efforts to achieve our shared goals, Advocate FHSD would like to highlight this op-ed titled "Forest Hills School Board members who support racist resolution must resign."
Sarah was born and raised in the Cincinnati area and spent 13 years of her schooling in the Forest Hills School District (FHSD). Sarah is currently an undergraduate student studying international relations at Stanford University.
FHSD is lucky to have Sarah Crable in its corner, and we are lucky to have this advocate in our group! Thank you Sarah!
If we are to have any hope of fostering a safe and constructive environment for all students in Forest Hills, Bibb, Hausfeld, and Jonas cannot remain in their positions. They have demonstrated a commitment to creating a culture of discrimination and hostility, of flagrant racism and ignorance. They cannot sit in positions that purport to act in the interest of student welfare while championing policies that will do such great harm to students of color and LGBTQ+ students. It is time for them to resign so the school district can get serious about prioritizing student needs — including the need for anti-racist education.
The Forest Hills Foundation for Education (FHFE) has supported the Forest Hills School District for over 14 years and provides funding for much needed critical initiatives that lead to the success of FHSD students. In a recent statement, the organization reassures the community that they will continue to provide their crucial services, while distancing themselves from the overall message of the "Culture of Kindness" resolution passed on June 22, 2022. As a community, we thank FHFE for their continued support of students and teachers in the district. Read their statement:
Forest Hills Foundation for Education Response to the FHSD Board of Education June 22, 2022 Resolution
As Board members and staff of the Foundation, we are inspired and guided by our Vision, Mission, and Values.
As a group of parents, community members, corporate and nonprofit leaders, we believe we need to understand others’ differences and backgrounds to be successful. We must be able to have civil conversations and debates. The classroom creates a safe environment for students to make mistakes, learn and grow. We continue to believe in and support research based best practices in education such as fostering effective learning environments, including activities which ensure the ability for students to be heard and have a sense of belonging.
In the coming school year, we will continue to consider grant requests from the Forest Hills School District, increase our grant allocation to our front-line educators through Teacher Grants, and add a new category of School Group Community Grants - working through our PTAs and PTOs to hear directly from parents and students. We believe this approach will lead to even better outcomes for every student to have the resources to reach their full potential. We will continue to be vigilant in ensuring that our grants support our Vision, Mission, and Values.
For over 14 years, the Foundation has supported the Forest Hills School District by funding critical initiatives for the success of our students - Nagel After School tutoring and student clubs; a Child Focus Therapist; STEM programs such as Destination Imagination, Esports and Robotics; and Teacher Grants. We continue to believe the most effective and efficient way to impact the largest number of students is by partnering with the Forest Hills School District.
Thank you for your trust in us to achieve the Foundation’s important and rewarding Mission to serve our students.
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