Garfield Heights, OH

Garfield Heights City Schools Host Public Forum in Search of New Superintendent; Board No Show & Treasurer Erred

Brown on Cleveland

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Garfield Heights, OH. - Garfield Heights Board of Education is searching for a new superintendent. Bill Wagner, Co-Director of First Ring Schools Collaborative Educational Service Center of Northeast Ohio, informed Brown on Cleveland that the current superintendent, Chris Hanke, had resigned. Wager announced that Hanke will serve as the school's superintendent until May 2022. "This evening, there is a public forum to hear from the public what they want in their next school leader. I will be soliciting feedback from the community. The School Board members want to get the community's input," stated Wagner.

As public members slowly entered the venue, Brown on Cleveland began to set up a camera for taping in one corner of the room away from the participants. The District's Treasurer, Allen Sluka, stated that there is no recording of this meeting. We asked Sluka under what premise is he referencing since the meeting is a public meeting. We also requested Sluka to refer us to the Board's policy. "I don't have a copy of the board's policy, and I don't know where to find the policy," stated Sluka. Due to the coverage of this event, we complied and informed Sluka that we would not tape the meeting this evening, but we will report on this forum and follow up at another time with the school board's policy regarding this issue.

On Thursday, April 14, 2022, we requested a copy of the Board's policy regarding broadcasting and taping board meetings from Board President Nichelle Daniels and Superintendent Chris Hanke. Neither of them sent us the procedure; however, Hanke referred us to the school's website, where we found the board's policy. According to the Garfield Heights School Board's guidelines, "photography and electronic audio and video broadcasting and recording devices may be used at regular and special Board meetings legally open to the public." After reading the policy, we found that Sluka appeared to have erred. We attempted to contact Hanke and Daniels for comments, but there was no response.

Garfield Heights City Schools disseminated a public press release entitled Garfield Heights City Schools to Host Parent/StakeholderMeeting on April 13th. As per the press release, "in collaboration with Finding Leaders, who the Board of Education has engaged to conduct the search process for the new Superintendent, the district will be hosting a parent/stakeholder forum. At the meeting, we will ask participants to share their viewpoints on the qualities that the next superintendent should embody. This forum intends to help Finding Leaders as they begin to narrow the search in identifying the next leader of the Garfield Heights City Schools with as much input from the community as possible."

With approximately 25 parents and stakeholders in the room for 90 minutes, discussions centered around the school board's vision and mission for the community, allegations of racism, diversity and inclusion, mental health, and safety. Members of the School Board were a no-show.

Afterward, a few parents assembled in the parking lot and found it odd that school board members were not present. "How will they know what we want if they are not here to listen to our needs? Listening and learning are vital to this entire process. I guess we have to wait and see what comes before us," the group griped.

"This is the 4th community forum. The first round of board interviews will begin the week of May 18th," said Wagner.

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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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