Toledo School of the Arts students speak out against racist school culture

Students came out on Monday to protest what they call bullying by teachers. The TSA said an altercation took place earlier as an educator tried to defuse a situation

TOLEDO, Ohio — A principal at the Toledo School for the Arts is on administrative leave following an altercation with a student.

Earlier this week, students staged a strike to protest what they call systemic bullying by teachers and a culture of racism they say should not be swept under the rug. The TSA did not provide any statement to WTOL 11 in response to the students’ allegations.

The Toledo School for the Arts released a statement from Principal Doug Mead to TSA parents discussing the walkout and the incident that the school says contributed to the walkout:

“While we were holding class reunions today, a group of students participated in a walkout near the entrance to the platform. First of all, I want you to know that faculty and staff were on hand to ensuring the safety of all participating students Students returned to their classrooms in 6th period.

“Secondly, I wanted to provide some clarification on the incident I am currently investigating which helped trigger the walkout. Yesterday one of our staff tried to defuse a situation with a student which resulted in a brief altercation I will be looking into this matter further while the staff member is on administrative leave.

“I want to make sure we provide a channel for communication and dialogue with our students, which is why holding these class reunions is so important. I look forward to hearing their thoughts and experiences as we seek to continually improve the culture at TSA.”

The principal on leave is art director David Saygers. Professor Jose Hernandez will serve as interim director.

Details about the altercation, what led up to it and what happened during it, were not provided by the TSA.

The walkout brought together around 100 students, who denounced what they describe as an atmosphere of prejudice, racial insensitivity and anti-Semitism at the school. They knelt together, held up signs and chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Justice for students”.

The walkout took place during previously scheduled diversity and inclusion meetings, which Mead said were intended to “be a valuable opportunity for students to engage in dialogue with faculty, staff, administration and our board members.

Although Mead said the walkout was known and planned with staff members making sure students returned to class safely, he discouraged future walkouts. On social media on Wednesday, Mead said any future walkouts would result in no students.

Carol C. Reed