Minooka School District 111 to seek diversity

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Minooka High School District 111 announced last week that it has taken steps to create a diversity committee, along with training initiatives for staff and administrators.

The news came after several students raised concerns about alleged instances of racism at the school during a board of education meeting in May.

The May meeting happened after students, staff and parents were upset after hearing about the departure of then-principal Ronald Kiesewetter. The students and parents said at the meeting they heard rumors that Kiesewetter's resignation came after he spoke out against a board member who allegedly made a racist remark in closed session at another board meeting.

During that May meeting, several students of color in the district complained about various incidents of being targets of and exposed to the racist language and behavior of their classmates.

After the meeting, the board of education president, Mike Brozovich, released a statement in which he said the board would “vow to work with our students, staff and our community on initiatives, including training and programs to ensure that all are welcome in our schools.”

The board participated in training led by Troy Cicero, the president and chief skill officer of MulticulturREAL, which offers communications, coaching, training and consulting services related to multicultural diversity in professional settings, according to a news release.

“The Board of Education was impressed and appreciated all they gained from Mr. Cicero,” Minooka Superintendent Kenneth Lee said. “We learned a lot about our own perceptions and how we will apply that knowledge on a day-to-day basis. This was an introspective and enlightening moment in our personal and professional lives.”

The district said its diversity committee will continue to “take the pulse” of the school community regarding all aspects of diversity. District board members Deirdra Crye and Dustin Heap have volunteered to serve on the committee. Crye was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board left by Lori Lakota, who resigned after being accused of making the initial racist remarks.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.