Shaker Heights district says racism a factor in athletic conference change

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SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — A local school district is planning a move to another athletic conference after saying some of its athletes have been subjected to racial slurs on athletic fields.

Shaker Heights wants to move from the Greater Cleveland Conference and rejoin the Lake Erie League as soon as the 2020 school year.

The reasons are spelled out in a news release.

Shaker says the LEL is now more stable then it was in 2012 when Shaker left after 89 years. They also address geography and travel issues pointing out that GCL teams are spread over four Ohio counties.

The district also cites diversity and  cultural sensitivity issues.

The District Executive Director of Communications, Scott Stevens, verbalizes the problem saying, “There have been instances more than once where our kids have been on the receiving end of racial slurs and things of that nature. Obviously, that bothers us. We have talked to various schools about that.”

But, Shaker feels the problem still persists and is taking this action in the best interests of its students.

“Some of our teams are mostly African American. Some of our teams are mostly white students, but we’ve found when a team is predominantly African American or has a high number of African American athletes such as our football teams and our basketball squad, they’ve encountered racial slurs when playing in some venues,” he explained.

The GCC has teams in Lorain, Medina, Lake and Cuyahoga counties.  The LEL has teams generally closer to home and offers more natural rivals, like Cleveland Heights.

The invite from the LEL came over the summer and after lots of conversation and study, Shaker has decided to say yes.

Garfield Heights is also weighing an invitation to move from the GCC to the LEL.

Scheduling issues make this a two year process.

Shaker Heights plans to re-visit the situation next January.

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