18-member committee tackling race in the Catholic school system

Published: Mar. 13, 2018 at 10:15 PM EDT
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The Lansing Diocese announces a new Task Force on Race in the classroom-- a move that will impact Mid-Michigan students too.

The 18-member committee leading the way is made up of people of all backgrounds.

Bishop Earl Boyea says the diocese is here to listen.

One parent says the schools in Mid-Michigan need to do better with diversity in the classroom.

The Lansing Diocese opened up with prayer as they announced their new task force on Race and Catholic Schools.

"See each person like a treasured gift of God,” Boyea said.

Boyea then blessed the 18 members. In that group are two people from Flint.

A pastor from Christ the King Parish and Angela Maria Ascencio-Mindlin, a mother of two children, both of whom attend a Catholic school.

“Just trying to help and bring my experience to the table and what it means for moms like me,” Ascencio-Mindlin said.

She says when she was younger there was a lack of diversity in her school.

“Growing up a Mexican American in Flint I have a different perspective on diversity in schools,” she told ABC 12.

She says that issue continues to this day.

"When you talk about growing enrollment you have to be more diversified,” she said.

The newly seated board is tasked with holding listening sessions throughout the year.

Then they'll meet with the Bishop to talk about what they learned and what could be done to address the issues.

"To make recommendations to me about how the Diocese of Lansing Catholic schools can better listen to and meet the needs of racial and ethnic minorities and to better accompany all people for God,” Boyea said.

The task force held their first listening session tonight after the bishop's announcement.

They're expected to make recommendations to him later this fall.

This task force is already facing major scrutiny by the public.

Four Catholic High football players saw less playing time last fall after kneeling during the National Anthem.

One athlete at the task force press conference asked the Bishop for an apology.

Bishop Earl Boyea then apologized for the punishment the student faced.

The bishop says he doesn't have a stance on whether or not students should be disciplined for kneeling during the national anthem.

He has asked school administrators to be lenient with the consequences.

But for one of the players at the heart of the controversy says that's not enough.

"You know I had my name dragged through the dirt for this, and I ended up transferring schools because of everything, but there's been nothing for that. So, if that sorry is his way of trying to throw a band-aid over that while I am still bleeding,” Michael Lynn III said.

The task force has asked for the public to give them time to work on any recommendations.

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