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Lakota School Board creates a new diversity council that excludes controversial member

a photo of lakota west high school building

The Lakota Local Schools Board of Education voted 4-1 Monday night to approve the creation of the Lakota Community Diversity Council to replace the district's recently disbanded Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee.

Board President Lynda O'Connor said the new council would include 30 community members with diverse backgrounds and intends to have more productive conversations around topics like race, religion and sexual identity in Lakota schools than the smaller diversity committee comprised of board and staff members.

Lakota's previous group held its last meeting May 5. That meeting spiraled out of control when conservative board member Darbi Boddy told staff on the advisory committee they were promoting terrorism for showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and were trying to indoctrinate children with Critical Race Theory.

RELATED: Lakota school board member wants to ban trans girls from athletics and the girl's bathroom

Former Lakota West High School Principal Eglin Card was on the committee and pushed back against Boddy's claims, saying the public perception of the district has taken a nose-dive because of Boddy's politically charged antics that put the district in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

"We used to be a model district and now people are calling me from all over the state and all over the region laughing at us," Card said.

Card left the district in May to become the superintendent at Princeton City Schools.

Board members Kelley Casper and Lynda O'Connor were chosen to represent the board in the newly established group. Boddy asked to be a part of the council but her request was denied by all of the other members of the board.

RELATED: Lakota parents ask board to prioritize inclusion after superintendent's resignation

Details about how the community council will operate and will who join the group remain unclear, but O'Connor says she expects the council to be more productive than the diversity committee had been over the past year and will lead to better outcomes for all of the district's students.

Lakota's next committee meetings are scheduled for Aug. 18.

Corrected: June 7, 2023 at 4:11 PM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly reported Julie Shaffer was named to the new Community Diversity Council. It should have said Lynda O'Connor was named to the council. The story has been corrected.
Zack Carreon is Education reporter for WVXU, covering local school districts and higher education in the Tri-State area.