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Local NAACP to file report with departments of Education, Justice on blackface incident at Center Grove

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The local NAACP chapter plans to file a report with the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice about concerns of “cultural insensitivity” at Center Grove schools. The announcement comes after a Center Grove High School football player was photographed in blackface on the team bus, evidently mocking a Black student at another school.

In a letter sent to Center Grove Community School Corporation Superintendent Richard Arkanoff, the Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch said the district doesn’t have “proper measures and mechanisms” to make everyone feel equal.

“Our thought is that the atmosphere on the bus and within the athletic department is a product of an overall school environment that allows for such negative behavior,” the letter reads.

Read the full letter here.

In a statement, Arkanoff said the district appreciates the NAACP’s concern and called the blackface incident “disappointing, hurtful, and in no way representative of our school district, athletic programs, or the citizens who live in our community.”

The district issued “appropriate discipline” to all involved, according to the statement.

“As an educational institution, we take seriously our responsibility to prepare our students to become knowledgeable, confident, and responsible citizens,” Arkanoff said.

The chapter released the letter Jan. 3; it is dated Dec. 27, 2021. The letter is signed by the chapter’s president, Chrystal Ratcliffe.

The chapter wants to work with the district to discuss the incident and the district’s compliance with state requirements. It also plans to report to state and national NAACP leadership.

Arkanoff said the district welcomes insight from the NAACP.

The chapter’s report will be filed with the U.S. Department of Education Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Department of Justice Community Affairs Department in Chicago.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853 or email at tylerf@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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