PICKERINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) — Community members in Pickerington complained earlier this fall over what they saw as unfair treatment when the school district disciplined a white administrator less harshly than a Black counterpart over their social media posts.
Now, the white administrator has been given a 10-day suspension without pay in supplemental discipline.
Ruth Stickel, principal at Fairfield Elementary School, will serve the suspension over 10 weeks this winter. In social media posts, Stickel, who is white, posted and shared multiple messages, including some saying, “Black Lives Matter is Leftist Lie.”
The discipline agreement was dated Dec. 7.
In July, Damicka Bates, a Black assistant principal, lost a promotion because of a social media post, a photo of her daughter standing in front of a graffiti mural with a negative message about police.
After Stickel was initially given a written warning, community members protested the disparity and labeled it as an example of racial inequality.
“Procedurally, the District handled the two matters the same up to the point where one required the Board of Education to take action on a pending change of assignment that the administrator [Bates] voluntarily agreed to forego,” the district said in a statement Friday.
In addition, the district said it is taking several steps to show that it values diversity. Those include reviewing policy with employees and giving professional development on social media, using a consultant to provide racial sensitivity training to 1,200 employees, and creating a citizen’s advisory committee to address diversity and inclusion.
The district also created a committee on respect, inclusion, diversity and equity, as well as re-vamped procedures to govern future investigations.
“Not everyone will be happy with the decisions that have been made, but we believe the mutually agreed-upon resolutions were fair,” the statement read. “Our plan is to move forward in a proactive manner that allows us to learn from our mistakes, while increasing our capacity to lead in a diverse community.”