Editor’s note: The original version of this story misidentified the school board member who resigned after posting insensitive content. We have corrected the story to show that it was Travis Kiker who posted insensitive content and resigned. The original story incorrectly identified Todd Price as that member. Price did not post insensitive content on social media and is still serving on the school board. The school board’s decision to create the diversity committee was voted unanimously with Price’s approval.
MONROE – Community leaders in the education, faith and nonprofit sectors are among those Union County Public Schools has selected to serve on its new citizens advisory committee on diversity.
The school board launched the committee over the summer after member Travis Kiker shared insensitive posts on social media. Kiker resigned to avoid causing a further distraction for the board.
More than 60 people applied for the opportunity to serve on the committee, including Indian Trail Mayor Michael Alvarez and Waxhaw Mayor Pro Tem Brenda McMillon, but the group is far from political.
Ernestine Staton, who serves on the Marshville Town Council, was appointed; however, she works for UCPS and has two grandchildren in the district.
Melanie Miller not only serves as executive director of The Arc of Union/Cabarrus, but she also has two children in UCPS.
“As a nonprofit professional, I’ve dedicated my life to advocating for those who can be pushed to the sidelines – kids in Title I schools, senior adults with dementia, children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Miller wrote in her application. “Our society already has diversity. What we do not have is inclusion and equity.”
The committee drew students and adults from an array of backgrounds.
Waxhaw Realtor Sergey Dzyk said in his application that he represents the Evangelical and Slavic communities. He has four children in UCPS and has served as a chaplain at the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.
Joseph Ellis, a professor at Wingate University, has examined issues related to civil rights and desegregation in Union County Public Schools.
“In short, I would like to serve on the council to provide a historical perspective to our discussions, and how this history can help make sense of our current climate,” Ellis wrote in his application.
Members of the committee and the school clusters they represent are as follows:
• Community members – Reggie Adkins (Marvin Ridge), Sandeep Berry (Weddington), Selina Campbell (Monroe), Joseph Ellis (Piedmont), Monique Holt (Sun Valley), Thomas LeGrand Jr. (Forest Hills), Melanie Miller (Porter Ridge), Kimberly Morrison-Hansley (Parkwood) and Joy Robbins (Cuthbertson).
• Faith community – Alisha Allen (Forest Hills), Sergey Dzyk (Marvin/Weddington) and Robert Capers (Monroe).
• UCPS Students – Emily Adamo (Weddington), Audrey Ansel (Porter Ridge), Darby Burgett (Cuthbertson), Mia Cappella (CATA), Rylee Coyne (Cuthbertson), Lia Kondeti (CATA), Heidi Picazo-Gonzalez (CATA), Jade Robinson (CATA), Olivia Santos (Marvin Ridge), Rachel Skinner (Piedmont), Ava Tartaglia (Piedmont).
• UCPS staff – Heather Diaz (South Providence), Mike Helms (Parkwood), Rebecca King (Piedmont), Garrett Malone (Porter Ridge), Cheryl Mimy (Sun Valley), Matt Sides (Forest Hills), Ernestine Staton (Monroe), Amanda Stinchcomb (Central Services).
• UCPS Administrator – Maxie Johnson.
“We did not have enough students for each cluster, so we just decided to vote for everyone who applied for it,” school board Matt Helm said during the Sept. 1 meeting. “That filled the slots for the students.”
Melissa Merrell, who chairs the school board, said a facilitator has been selected but her fee has not yet been finalized.
“We are not going to vote on a facilitator until we can speak to her and determine the scope of the work, how many meetings we want to have and what her fee will be,” Merrell said.