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The Hamilton County School Board’s October Agenda Meeting and School Board Meeting were relatively uneventful compared to many past meetings. This is no fault of the School Board; it is...
hard for anything to compete with the news’s eventfulness in a year where the news has more plot twists than most television shows that aren’t Soap Operas. For this blog, we have decided to report solely on our thoughts around the Agenda Session and the numerous awards presented during the regular School Board Meeting.
Agenda Meeting: The agenda session was pretty mild for the first half of the meeting until they revisited new policies set in place at HCS. There was a second read of the Harassment and Discrimination Policy in the middle of the agenda session. After a slight chuckle from Rhonda Thurman, she expressed with concern that a policy like this would make it difficult to “tell somebody, ‘I like your shoes.’” She went on to say that “It seems like this has gone a bit overboard.” The school board attorney, Scott Bennett, reminded board member Thurman that OCR dictates this particular policy and matters that concern it because some things can’t be specific to Hamilton County. He stated that, “The extent of what you’re talking about is substantive.” He reminded the board that “there’s a standard of reasonability” so extreme instances that Ms. Thurman is concerned about would rarely, if not ever, occur. The human resources department would handle the issues that may come about from those issues.
Councilman Highlander joked that it would be okay to tell Rhonda’s husband that “he looked really good in an outfit” and that would be acceptable. It seemed as though he was implying that there was a double standard. Jenny Hill quickly fired back that “we shouldn’t make light of sexual harassment.” As a student, I’m concerned that certain members on the board are so hung up on the idea that “everyone is so sensitive nowadays” instead of realizing that things that were acceptable in the early 2000s, ‘90s, ’80s, etc. are not different because we’re being sensitive. Things are different because we’re more socially aware. Quite frankly, as a woman and person of color, I would HOPE that things aren't how they used to be. I’m thankful for policies like this because, for students and teachers, there needs to be a standard of social awareness that we have for one another. This policy helps create a clear guideline for what is expected of members in HCS.
School Board Meeting: With the difficult 2020-2021 school year still continuing, it may feel that nothing positive is coming out of this year. However, for some, this year has brought success. According to The Times Free Press, one of these people is Hamilton County Superintendent Bryan Johnson, who, “The National School Public Relations Association has named...one of its 24 Superintendents to Watch.” This was for his “fast-paced leadership”. As a student, I am not sure how I feel about this. Yes, I think that his leadership has more than likely improved the quality of life inside Hamilton County, but that is supposed to be a given. I am glad that someone who, at least publicly, seems to be a solid leader is being recognized. I wish to know more about Dr. Bryan Johnson, but I hope that we all watch our leaders closely.