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Forest Hills School District will not enforce controversial resolution, for now

a sign reading "protect diversity in FHSD" in a flower bed
Cory Sharber
Sign seen outside a building when students at Turpin High School walked out of class on May 18 to protest Diversity Day being canceled.

The board of the Forest Hills School District has agreed not to enforce its controversial "Culture of Kindness" resolution while a case against it plays out in federal court.

The resolution, which passed 3-2 in late June, bans assignments where students would have to consider their race, socioeconomic class, religion, gender identity or sexuality.

Days later, parents and students filed a lawsuit calling the resolution an "illegal and unconstitutional race-based and content-based restriction which violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

“We are pleased that the board agreed to this stipulation, because it recognizes the need for clarity for students, teachers and staff as the new school year is less than a month away,” plaintiff Sarah Updike, a teacher in Forest Hills, said in a statement. “We believe this is the first step toward repealing this resolution which clearly contradicts educational best practices and is harmful to the students, staff and community at large."

The plaintiffs are asking the court to declare the resolution unconstitutional and stop it from being enforced.

Late Friday afternoon, the district issued a statement saying it planned to "vigorously" defend the resolution and file a motion to dismiss the case.

"The Board intends to vigorously defend the resolution's validity and the board's legal authority to adopt the resolution that promotes kindness and equality for students and staff," the statement reads. "However, the board is fully aware and understands that the board will be required to adopt official policies and procedures for the implementation of the vision set forth by the resolution.  It will be necessary to work closely with the administration, staff, and stakeholders to ensure that Forest Hills continues to be a place where students can learn in an environment and culture of kindness and equality."  

The resolution came less than a month after the board canceled Turpin High School's Diversity Day. Students participated in a walkout and held a scaled-down event at a local church.

Multiple school board members campaigned on an anti-critical race theory platform last year.

Students return to district classrooms Aug. 18.

Updated: July 22, 2022 at 4:50 PM EDT
This article has been updated to include a statement from the board.
Corrected: July 22, 2022 at 4:18 PM EDT
This article has been updated with the correct vote count.
Jennifer Merritt brings 20 years of "tra-digital" journalism experience to WVXU.