LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – More than a dozen Black teachers and students in the Lansing School District joined the community Tuesday night to share their experiences.

A community meeting was held Tuesday night for school officials, including from the Lansing Public School Board of Education, to hear firsthand about the unequal treatment some in the Black community say the school system is allowing to happen.

Barbara Tate was one educator who shared her experience at the Lansing People’s Assembly. “I went to the meeting and I had papers shoved across the table at me,” she says. “We want you to sign this letter of resignation. I said, ‘What for?’”

She and others are concerned about unfair treatment targeting Black students and teachers – ranging from retaliation to a lack of representation in Lansing classrooms.

Organizers say the assembly was necessary because concerns aren’t being heard by the district’s leadership.

In a flip on the script, officials were the focus of complaints ranging from student bullying to educators left with no reason as to why they’ve been put on leave – or without a job entirely.

“So, the communication and the callous nature with which I was ripped out and there was no explanation to me or my students,” says Kailyn Jones. “That’s not fair.”

A school district spokesperson tells 6 News officials and the Board are aware of the complaints and were invited to the discussion Tuesday night. “The district and the board always want to work with the community to better service the students and families of Lansing,” the statement reads in part.

Several board members did attend. Superintendent Ben Shuldiner was also present.
“How do we react?” he says. “We have to listen to people’s stories. We have to hear their truths and we have to move forward.”

Rachel Lewis is President of the Board of Education. She agrees with Shuldiner that a discussion is needed. The assembly on Tuesday, she says is a start for future dialog and changes in the district.

“We are accountable to our community, and we want to make a space where we want to hear concerns and respond accordingly,” she tells 6 News. She says there are discussions underway about creating more community meetings. The goal is to continue to seek solutions that will make the Lansing Public Schools a welcoming place for all.