Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 29, 2022
Several students, teachers and parents in the Forest Hills School District filed a lawsuit against the board Wednesday claiming the “culture of kindness” resolution banning critical race theory to be unconstitutional. There is a rally scheduled for Wednesday evening supporting the resolution’s repeal.
Rather than promoting kindness, the suit reads, the board’s new policy “promotes hatred, racism and discrimination” and “inflicts disproportionate injury upon students of color and those who are LGBTQ+.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati by Kelly and Nicole Lundrigan, lawyers who have four children currently enrolled in Forest Hills schools. They represent parents Sarah and James Updike, Jennifer and Antonio Ciolino, Natalie and Jeffrey Hastings and Janielle Davis.
Six minors are also listed as plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed Wednesday against the school district, board members Sara Jonas, Linda Hausfeld, Bobb Bibb, Katie Stewart and Leslie Rasmussen and incoming superintendent Larry Hook.
“This Resolution makes students of certain colors, races and identities and their families to not feel welcome. If this is not seen as a problem by our Board, that concerns me even more,” Sarah Updike, who is also a teacher and intervention specialist in the district, wrote on her own behalf in the lawsuit.
The Lundrigans threatened a lawsuit on Friday in a letter they wrote to board members. If the board did not rescind its new policy against anti-racism, they wrote, the lawyers would “not sit idly by while you trample the Constitutional rights of students and teachers and destroy this school system.”
The “Resolution to Create a Culture of Kindness and Equal Opportunity for All Students and Staff,” which passed 3-2 during a regular board meeting last week, effectively stops teachers from giving assignments that nudge students to consider their race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or culture as derogatory. Teachers cannot force kids to “admit privilege of oppression” or to reflect, deconstruct or confront their identities, according to the resolution.
Teachings on critical race theory, anti-racism, identity and intersectionality are also limited under the resolution’s terms.
“Educators are left wondering what is and what is not prohibited by the Resolution,” the lawsuit states, and the resolution’s limitations “robs students of information, ideas, and instructional approaches” courts have previously deemed essential to the “preservation of this country’s democracy.”
“By prohibiting education, curriculum, and training regarding ‘anti-racism,’ the Resolution instead promotes racism by its very definition,” the lawsuit reads.