Muncie Central addresses concerns after ‘disruptive discussion’ with officers and students led to protest, virtual learning

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MUNCIE, Ind. – For the third day in a row, high school students in Muncie learned from home.

This all started because of a class project that was meant to highlight social issues but ended up creating a “disruptive discussion” between a student and school resource officers.

Students then took action by holding a protest on Monday, leading to the call for a switch to e-learning. But with the tension not yet settled, the school is working to move forward.

“Many of the students feel that e-learning may be a way to possibly shelter our voices,” said Quinnith Bouton, a junior at Muncie Central High School. She feels she isn’t being heard.

However, she’s also heard that her classmates believe e-learning was the right choice to calm things down after Monday. That’s when students held a peaceful protest inside the high school in response to the class project.

“We had a project that was to raise awareness on today’s issues in America,” said Bouton, “Most students chose to do a poster board.”

The posters displayed in the hallway referenced religion, LBGT rights, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. In a statement sent earlier this week, the district said:

“The display created a disruptive discussion between a student and School Resource Officers that the student and other observers found offensive. 

As a result, the teacher involved was asked to relocate the posters to her classroom where she could invite visitors to view them. This occurred over the weekend. That inspired some students to organize a peaceful protest, which they held in the MCHS Student Center at the start of school today (Monday).

Muncie Community Schools

The students voiced their concerns and engaged in a civil discussion with school and district officials. No other outside agency, including the Muncie Police Department, was involved with this protest.

Bouton added, “A lot of the students had felt very hurt because our project was to raise awareness in the first place.”

In a statement sent to the families of Muncie Community Schools, the district said in part, “It is our intent to have students feel secure and respected when they are at school. This means every student, not just those who feel aggrieved or are passionate about a particular issue.”

The letter to parents included a list of ways the district plans to address concerns.

  • Investigate the current incident thoroughly.
  • Provide appropriate accountability.
  • Immediately commence ongoing group discussions about the issues involved with assistance from a professional facilitator from Ball State. This effort will include students, parents, teachers and administrators in an effort to provide for an airing of all issues and the development of appropriate remedies. 
  • Continue ongoing diversity, sensitivity and implicit bias training of all MCS staff, including monthly reporting on all such activities to the MCS Board.
  • Provide a means for students to register additional complaints with MCS Administration.
  • Continue operating transparently, sharing pertinent information taking into consideration privacy and confidentiality rights of students, parents and MCS staff.

The Muncie Human Rights Commission has organized a peaceful protest after school on Nov. 23, according to the district. Protestors will march from Central’s football field to City Hall and back.

Class is expected to resume on Friday at Muncie Central High School.

Bouton stated that some students plan to continue to protest silently at school by wearing signs around their necks or tape on their mouths.

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