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Here is a District statement including statements from Mr. Ackermann, Mr.

Leist and Board
Member, Mr. Belfrom. If I can be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out to
me.

The Kings Local School District is strongly committed to cultural competency and creating an
environment that promotes diversity and inclusion. Recently, Kings High School Principal, Doug
Leist denied an African American student of using a song with the “n” word in it at the school
Homecoming Pep Assembly. When the student asked Mr. Leist specifically why the song was
not going to be allowed, Mr. Leist explained to the student that the song used the word “n#$ga.”

The student’s parent made a complaint about Mr. Leist’s use of the word, stating that it made
the student feel uncomfortable. Upon investigation and interviews with the student, the student’s
parent, and Leist, it was discovered that the use of the derogatory term was used only when the
student specifically asked which word in the song was inappropriate. Mr. Leist felt it was
important to address the student’s feelings and met with the student, the student’s mother, and
Kings’ Superintendent, Tim Ackermann. The conversation helped all involved understand each
other’s intentions and feelings towards the use of the word. All parties left the meeting with a
deeper understanding of each other’s feelings on this topic.

In this situation, Mr. Leist was trying to prevent an inappropriate song from being heard by the
KHS student body at an all-school assembly. Kings Superintendent, Tim Ackermann said, “It
was not the principal’s intention to be offensive, but nevertheless, the student felt
uncomfortable.”

In January at a staff meeting, Mr. Leist gave a specific example of an issue regarding a student
using the “n” word towards another student which caused disciplinary action for the
student. During that meeting, he expressed to the staff that they all needed to continue to do
everything they could to eliminate the use of this language. A staff member, who was not
present at the meeting, heard that Mr. Leist used the “n” word during the meeting and filed a
complaint with the District. After an investigation, it was deemed that Leist used the word in
context of the incident with the students. Even though Mr. Leist’s intent was to share the
seriousness of this matter, he did not intentionally set out to hurt anyone when he specifically
used the “n” word, however, it did upset this staff member.

Leist, who founded the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force at Kings High School said, “My goal
is to promote inclusivity wherever I go. I understand how hurtful the “n” word is. I would never
want to hurt a student or staff member. Their feelings and thoughts are very important to me.
However, even though the word was used in context, this has been a learning experience for
me, as well,” said Leist.

Kings Local Board of Education member, Stacie Belfrom, who is African American said, “I
believe that particular word is one that no one should use. In this case it was used to clarify why
this song’s lyrics were questionable and couldn’t be used at a pep rally. However, while the
context is important so that we can all better understand the intention, words can still hurt and
some are just non-starters.”

Regardless of context, the District is committed to becoming culturally competent. We will
continue the mission of promoting an environment based on acceptance and understanding --
one in which every member of our community feels valued and is treated with dignity and
respect. We want all of our students and staff to feel welcome and valued. As a part of our
Strategic Plan, the Kings Local School District is on a journey of cultural proficiency. As we
continue on this journey, we are having crucial conversations regarding diversity and
inclusion.”There is no playbook on how to navigate hard conversations with others and we will
continue to learn from our experiences,” said Ackermann. “We are very confident that our plans
and actions will continue to show our diligence towards cultivating a culture where diversity and
inclusion is the norm. We have work to do and will not stop our journey towards cultural
awareness and competence,” he said.

Dawn Gould