Garfield Heights, OH

Garfield Heights School Event Angers Garfield City Council: Superintendent Omitted Members From Local Gathering

Brown on Cleveland

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City Council Members Stacey Collier, Charles Donahue, Jason Seither, Avery Johnson, Jason Blake, Clifford Kelley, and Thomas VaughnCourtesy of the City of Garfield Heights

Garfield Heights, OH. - Garfield Heights High School event angers city council members. Several council members complained about a recent event orchestrated by the school board and held at the high school with local officials caused an uproar between the council and school board members. Surprisingly, several Council members found out about the event via Facebook postings by school board member Ashley Thomas. Garfield Heights City Schools' Superintendent Chris Hanke planned the event. "I organized the event for the high school. The only person from Garfield City Council invited was the school's liaison, who is also a council member, Stacy Collier," stated Hanke.

Ward Four of Garfield is where the high school sit. Ward Four's Councilman is Avery Johnson. "I am not happy about this situation. I feel disrespected. I did not receive an invite to an event in the Ward where I am elected to serve. No disrespect to other elected officials, but how can outsiders come to an event for local children, and yet the elected officials of their city are not invited," said Johnson. Several council members expressed the same sentiments. Ward Five Councilman Jason Blake appeared to be perplexed. "This situation is interesting. I am a graduate of Garfield Schools. I grew up in Garfield. I have walked where they are walking. The School Board decided to omit our admission to the event." "I spoke with Nichelle Daniels, the School Board President, and she told me we did not receive an invite due to limited space," added Johnson.

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Nichelle Daniels School Board President, Garfield HeightsCourtesy of Nichelle Daniels Archives

Council President Thomas Vaughn also found the non-invite of council members disrespectful. Vaughn appears to question the rationale behind the non-invite. "We have a Performing Arts venue on our school grounds. It has a large capacity. We have invested thousands of dollars in the center. Why didn't the organizer request a venue change if space was an issue? We should be working together to aid our community. There is no room for divisiveness," commented Vaughn.

Brown on Cleveland reached out to Board Member Ashley Thomas for comments. Thomas advised us to contact the Board President Nichelle Daniels, and Daniels had Superintendent Chris Hanke explain his actions in the invite process. Hanke stated that he handled invites, and it did not matter if the school's located in Johnson's Ward; he only invited the school's liaison. "I did not consider inviting Councilman Johnson," stated Hanke.

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Superintendent Chris HankeThe Brown Report Newspaper (Photo)

Councilmembers Clifford Kelley Jr. of Ward Six and Jason Seither of Ward Three expressed concerns. Kelley talked about the importance of relationships. "The young people should know who we are. We live in the same community. It's important to have those relationships with them and their parents. Community events with our kids are a way to build our young people up. They should know who we are, and we should know them," stated Kelley. Seither disapproved of how the situation was handled and brought about. "We were not aware of the event. They could have informed us. The organizer could have told us what was forthcoming. No one said anything. I am a graduate of Garfield Heights as well. The least the board could have done - they should have respected us as elected officials and leaders in this community," commented Seither.

Garfield Heights School Superintendent Chris Hanke admitted to organizing the event at the high school. Hanke invited local elected officials who serve throughout Cuyahoga County to visit the school and talk with the young people about the impact of local and state government. Hanke admitted that he did not send invites to Garfield Heights council members. "We are the city of Garfield Heights, local officials. How much more local can we be. This was a slap in the face," said Blake. "The school board failed to communicate with us. Just disrespectful" echoed Johnson.

According to Garfield Heights City School's website, the Office of the Superintendent spearheads the communications effort with the community at large. It promptly reports changes, innovations, and current trends in public education to all district stakeholders.

Any resident unsure of their elected council member should call Garfield Heights City Hall at (216) 475-1100. Council meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month at the Civic Center, 5407 Turney Road City Council Chambers, Garfield Heights, Ohio 44125 - as per the city's website.

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"Brown On Cleveland" features podcast host, licensed social worker, and social justice activist Kimberly F. Brown. Former talk show host with WOVU.95fm. Brown is the Chief Administrator of The Brown Report Newspaper. Brown experience is with investigative reporting.

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