Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education meeting highlights

NOV. 16, 2023 - work session

  • Tuscarawas Valley accident
  • Board actions
  • MSAN 
  • Middle school MSAN
  • High school MSAN
  • Superintendent’s comments

Present were board members Dan Heintz, Malia Lewis, James Posch, and Jodi Sourini. Board President Beverly Wright was not present. Also present were Superintendent Elizabeth Kirby and Treasurer Scott Gainer. The meeting ran for one and one half hours.

Tuscarawas Valley accident

The board began the meeting with a moment of silence for the Tuscarawas Valley community and the victims of a motor vehicle accident there on Nov. 14, which caused the deaths of high school children, parent chaperones, and a teacher.

Board actions

The board approved a consent agenda, which included personnel matters, girls’ basketball and wrestling team’s travel, and pre-school fund appropriation of $27,117.30. There was no discussion except well-wishes for the staff retirements and new hires, and congratulations for the successes of the traveling teams.


The superintendent welcomed students from the middle schools and Heights High to report on their participation in the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN), which is an anchor student organization in the district. MSAN is present in about 25 school districts throughout the nation and in two other Ohio districts (Shaker Heights and Canton). MSAN students work on service projects, learn about their cultures, and provide support for each other and others in the school community.

Middle school MSAN

Students from Roxboro and Monticello middle schools appeared with Manana Robinson, their teacher/advisor. They reported on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame visit to learn about the history of hip hop as well as other music cultures, their eighth-grade trip to Step Afrika, and a biannual trip to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. They visited Kent State for the MLK (Martin Luther King) celebration with Bernice King. Last year they participated in a book study of Black Enough, a young-adult short-story collection. This coming year they will study Chasing the Roots of My Heritage, a poetry collection exploring HBCU (historically Black colleges and universities) experiences. During the school year, the students participate in online meetings, watch and create videos, enjoy speakers, provide support for one another, and engage in positive interactions with their school communities. Upcoming events include celebrating Kwanza, seeing "The Color Purple" movie, visiting Cleveland State and Kent State universities, and attending another eighth-grade trip to Step Afrika as well as the Unauthorized Biographies Series, both at Playhouse Square. They will be visiting Cleveland State University engineering school, as students are typically recruited from math classes. A recent speaker, Dr. James Rosser, spoke about working as a surgeon. Meetings with 10 to 15 students occur after school. Funding for these programs comes from the schools, parents, and Title I funds.

The board commented on the benefits of learning outside the classroom and praised the students’ poise in their interaction with the board.

High school MSAN

Heights High students attended the Nov. 4 National MSAN conference in Madison, Wis., and while there, developed this year’s action plan. They also attended meetings at the City Club and the Cycle Breakers’ conference in East Cleveland. Last spring, they attended a City Club event with Ambassador Gina Ambercromie-Winstanley, a Heights High graduate. The students spoke of the important role of the MSAN community and support in helping them manage the stresses they experience in school and out. Their action plan for this year, entitled Healthy Heights, is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop coping and mental-health maintenance skills with the goal of improving the school culture and academic performances, and reducing violence between students. Action plan steps include a Pop-Up Club event for students to learn about all the clubs in the school. Other activities will include days that focus on mindfulness, tranquility, yoga, music, thankfulness, self-love, and self-care. The MSAN group will conduct surveys about students’ needs and preferences, and review data about referrals and suspensions that arise from fighting in the school. They will seek the support and expertise of the superintendent, school principals, and other professionals in and out of school. The student budget for the high school MSAN is currently zero. Future activities will depend on funding.

Board members again endorsed the positive impact of the MSAN program on the students and the community, and expressed enjoyment with interacting directly with the students. 

Superintendent’s comments 

Superintendent Kirby thanked the students and assured them and the board that the administration will support the MSAN programs as much as possible. She noted that some of the students’ plans and goals coincide with those of the administration; she will explore ways to work together to achieve them.

LWV Observer: Paula Goodwin.

Documents for all board meetings can be accessed from the Board of Education webpage: Go to “BoardDocs” in the menu; on BoardDocs go to “MEETINGS” in the top menu; click on “Agenda.” Board meetings are livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel ( and recorded for later viewing.

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Volume 17, Issue 1, Posted 1:59 PM, 12.29.2023