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Letter addressing Black Lives Matter as political issue concerns HSE community

Apology from superintendent follows
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Posted at 9:30 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 16:02:41-05

FISHERS — An uproar, swift backlash and an apology on Tuesday, a day after a letter was sent to the faculty members of Hamilton Southeastern Schools by their administration. The letter shares concerns the administration says parents have had about the discussion of Black Lives Matter in the classroom, calling it a distraction.

"I just don't know how you fix what he's done," said Alex Morales, an HSE parent and part of the Racial Equity Community Network, a group based in Fishers that works to get rid of cultural and racial misunderstandings.

Despite the clarification and apology sent out by Superintendent Dr. Allen Bourff, Morales said he thinks the damage is done.

"I don't know if there's a feeling of moving forward with him in particular," Morales said. "I think it's good that we're at this point where this is going to be a change."

The initial letter sent to HSE faculty on Monday said a number of parents shared concerns that educators are advancing the cause of Black Lives Matter and that students are "being indoctrinated rather than taught." Bourff then suggests the social movement be treated as a political issue.

In the second letter sent out on Tuesday, Bourff apologizes for the first message and calls Black Lives Matter one of the most significant issues of our time.

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The district's Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer is out of the office this week dealing with a personal matter, a district spokeswoman said. She wasn't consulted on either letter, but Bourff consulted with some district equity coaches when writing the second letter.

"Black and brown students need to be in a safe space throughout the City of Fishers but in school as well. "It really took us off guard to see that was the response," Morales said.

Racial Equity Community Network said the initial letter seems to discourage teachers from discussing or supporting Black Lives Matter in the classroom.

The group is asking everyone in their community to wear a black shirt all week in solidarity with the social movement. They said they hope more conversations and understanding will come from this to help everyone move forward.

"It's a social justice movement that needs and demands change in policy and demands systemic changes so that we can continue to protect unarmed, innocent, Black men and women and children from being murdered," Morales said.

WRTV reached out to HSE schools to see if Bourff would be available for an interview and were told no. Bourff plans to retire at the end of this school year.

The HSE school board is having a regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Because of social distancing restrictions, only five seats are available to the community, but the meeting is also being streamed live online.

Anyone wishing to address the board must email Denise Justice before 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The first five will be permitted to attend and address the board on an agenda item, with a two-minute limit. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and will auto-lock at 6:50 p.m.