MCKEESPORT (KDKA) — The superintendent and assistant superintendent of the McKeesport School Area District met with members of the media Tuesday to say the issue of a Black Student Union is being played out in the court of social media and the person behind it is not a student, but a woman running for public office who wants to enhance her career.
“This complaint began with a candidate for public office’s effort to create a platform to push a political agenda among students,” superintendent Dr. Mark Holtzman said.
A few weeks ago, 11 McKeesport Area High School girls filed a complaint in Federal Court claiming school officials will not allow them to form a Black Student Union.
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Holtzman says the district never denied the students the right to have a Black Student Union, but the district had reservations about another issue.
“Our only hesitation was the multiple requests that violate the equal access act by non-school persons, such as Take Action Mon Valley and a politician that attempted to conduct, control and attend regularly group meetings,” Holtzman said.
That politician is Fawn Walker Montgomery, who is running for mayor of McKeesport. On her Facebook page, she also says she is the lead organizer of Take Action Mon Valley.
Montgomery, along with her daughter who is a student at the high school, are listed as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against the district and the superintendent.
“This was never about a Black Student Union. This was about outside control of a student group that we knew from the beginning was not appropriate or legal to do in our school system,” Holtzman said.
So what happens next?
Superintendent Holtzman says attorneys for the district will continue to negotiate with the ACLU, but they’re not considered about what will happen if they end up in court.
“We are pretty comfortable and confident that a judge or courts are going to side in our favor because it is quite clear that what they are attempting to make us do is illegal,” Holtzman said.
The superintendent says at no time have they negotiated with the students.
Montogomery could not be reached for comment.