WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– The fallout involving the removal of 10 members from a recently-formed diversity task force at Vigo County School Corporation continued at Monday’s school board meeting.
The 10 former members were removed from the committee earlier this month, following a request to view the report regarding racist incidents at West Vigo High School. The school board cited privacy concerns as the reason the report could not be shared.
At the previous school board meeting, both the corporation and the former members addressed their side of the issue, and both said they hoped to meet going forward. On Monday, the 10 members said they received a message from Vigo County Schools interim superintendent Tom Balitewicz, asking to meet with them individually.
Dr. Mary Howard-Hamilton, a member of the group referred to as the “Terre Haute 10,” said they were not comfortable with that.
“The reason why we came tonight is because the request has been made of us to meet individually,” she said. “And we do not want to meet individually, we want to meet as a group for coherence and for consistent communication reasons.”
VCSC provided a statement on the matter, addressing the timeline of events and their hopes going forward. The full statement is provided below:
“Dr. Balitewicz, under the direction of the Vigo County School Corporation Board of Trustees, reached out individually to former members of the Equity Leadership and Advisory Team on Saturday morning in an effort to hear considerations on rejoining the team. In an email to each individual, available below, Dr. Balitewicz asked for an opportunity to meet. An invitation was then sent Monday morning to set up those meetings. It is the intention of the board and Dr. Balitewicz to allow former members the opportunity to rejoin the team after these conversations. The Equity Leadership and Advisory Team will continue with the goal of providing recommendations on improving diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging efforts in the district.”
The email referenced in the statement is below:
“Good Morning, I would like the opportunity to meet with you, if you are willing, to discuss considerations and concerns as it relates to rejoining the team. We will reach out to you in the coming days to arrange a time to speak,” Balitewicz wrote.
Howard-Hamilton expanded on why they want to have these meetings take place in a group setting.
“Pulling individual members out would leave the individuals isolated, without a support system, without knowledge or an understanding of what our responsibilities are,” she said.
Besides a group meeting, she said they still wanted to receive a redacted version of the report on the incidents. She also cited wanting the board to receive a “diversity report” during their meetings, to improve transparency and communication with the community.
Howard-Hamilton said she hopes the group will meet with Balitewicz or the school board before the next board meeting in two weeks.