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Families protest to school board, call for Hamilton Southeastern superintendent to quit

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Families in the Hamilton Southeastern Schools district said Wednesday they will not back down until Superintendent Allen Bourff steps down.

Concern continues to grow across the district. Thousands have signed petitions disagreeing with the way Bourff suggested teachers discuss the Black Lives Matter Movement in the classroom.

On Wednesday night, nearly 20 people stood holding signs in subfreezing temperatures and snow to send a message to the school board members meeting inside. The group says they were blocked from entering and speaking.

Aaron Ferris said he was in communication with the superintendent’s assistant who told him there would be limited capacity at the meeting due to COVID-19 and he would need to sign up early. Ferris did and was told he would get in, but that changed when he filled out the public comment section of his request.

“She stated that the reason that I wanted to speak, my bullet point that I wanted to speak (about) was not on the agenda for the night, so I wouldn’t be able to go,” Ferris said.

He said he reached back out to see if he could still attend the meeting since he made the original cut and possibly speak on a different subject, but that request was also denied.

Board members can make comments at the beginning of their meetings; two on Wednesday night addressed the superintendent’s message.

Later in the meeting, a parent who tried to bring up the letter was silenced by a board member. Before she was cutoff, she said, “While I know Dr. Bourff’s letter to the teachers Monday wasn’t on the agenda today, our students well-being should be on the agenda every meeting.”

Parents said even though the superintendent issued an apology, they’re still not OK with the original email he sent faculty.

“This right here in 2021, this is our Rosa Parks. This is our Malcom X. This is our movement,” Aaron Ferris said.

A spokesperson for the school board told News 8 that no one was blocked from speaking at or entering the meeting, but added the board has limited attendance due to COVID-19; that reserving a seat is first-come, first-served; and people are only allowed to address the board about issues on the agenda and the superintendent’s letter was not one of those agenda items.

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