Who Made the Call to Paint Over the Nagel Mural?
New information from community members indicates that Superintendent Larry Hook likely erased the mural at the direction of board members. Sources suggest Hook may have taken ownership of the decision to misdirect community frustration and to avoid influencing the November election. The Superintendent role is not an elected position, and thus not held accountable with an election cycle.
AdvocateFHSD gathering evidence
AdvocateFHSD.org submitted a public records request on August 15, and as of the publishing of this blog entry, the district has not yet responded. We are concerned that the delay could buy time for board members to conceal communications, as there is potential evidence that at least one board member has done so already.
In September of 2022, Township Trustee public records requests by AdvocateFHSD.org related to the high school consolidation efforts produced text messages between Board Member Sara Jonas and Trustee Lexi Lausten as well as between Jonas and Dee Stone. Jonas stated in an email obtained through PRR that she had no "record to share". If Jonas or any member of the board acted to conceal or obfuscate the text records would demonstrate yet another example where board behavior contradicts their stated goal around transparency. It is possibly a violation of the Records Retention Act, ORC 149.351 putting the district at risk of yet another lawsuit, and reason for the community to express concern for adherence to the laws on record retention.
This past summer, a well-known and well-liked student mural promoting inclusion was covered by a new banner as part of a culture/branding initiative by Forest Hills.
Community awareness of the action occurred around the time of the 2023-2024 Nagel Open House, and since that time, members of our group have been advocating for the relocation of the banner to allow the student-painted artwork to remain as a symbol of acceptance for all Nagel students.
Today, students have informed us that when they arrived to Nagel this morning, the banner had been removed (as seen below) in what appears to be an unauthorized manner.
Advocate FHSD leadership and members categorically do not condone the destruction of school property at any time, for any reason. At the same time, it is a reasonable and logical conclusion that the act to hide the mural has clearly impacted students, some very personally.
While we acknowledge aggression and physical acts are not the best way to resolve issues, it is clear that the decision to cover the mural will continue to negatively affect students, and there exists a very simple solution - listening to the students asking to allow the inclusive mural to remain visible.
Students in Turpin's GSA independently wrote the district administration, asking for the mural to be moved further signaling the impact to them personally, as well as the apparent miscalculation of the administration regarding potential negative impact to students.
We will continue to encourage district administrators to replace the banner on a different wall and insist they do not cover up this student artwork that is clearly meaningful to many.
If you are so inclined, we suggest an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com to express your thoughts on allowing the mural to remain uncovered, and finding another location for the culture initiative's vinyl banner.
We have also heard that other actions may have been taken today that negatively affect students. We do not yet have evidence to support the claims, so we also ask here: if your student has been asked by a staff member, administrator or board member to remove an article of clothing, sticker, pin, button or keychain because it demonstrates support for one of these celebrated communities shown in the mural by a staff member, administrator or board member, please reach out to us at AdvocateFHSD@gmail.com we would like to hear about the details of the incident.
As a group, Advocate FHSD supports inclusivity and acceptance of every student's personal identity, religion and community of origin – whether that identity is theirs alone or one shared by many, we encourage understanding and acceptance.
That support includes students’ expression of their identities in all legally-acceptable forms–including t-shirts, stickers or other symbols that promote a culture of belonging and, we are committed to continue to respectfully advocate on behalf of a welcoming, warm and accepting culture for all of our community's students and staff.
Welcome to AdvocateFHSD! We’re so happy to have you here. Strong public schools = strong communities. Here, we strive to engage and inform the FHSD community, and empower residents to be the best advocates for our students, teachers, administrators, and district.