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Shaw High School students, alum protest in response to band director's resignation

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 19:54:11-04

EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio — Chants and calls for change from Shaw High School alumni and students rung out nearly as loud as the school’s popular marching band rings out across East Cleveland. The resignation of the band’s director, Donshon Wilson, was the group’s passion behind the protest outside Shaw on Monday morning.

"When I learned that he was resigning I knew there was an issue, I know he’s not going to resign for nothing,” said Shaw alum Matthew Longino. “The man has been through a lot in the past 24 years, I knew you’d have to push him to the edge before he would jump off.”

Wilson, a director for over two decades, said he’s resigning after being "the target of baseless claims and undervalued" by the East Cleveland district. Wilson also pointed to leadership emboldened by House Bill 70.

The legislation allowed the state to take control of East Cleveland schools after multiple years of failing to meet state standards, creating an academic distress commission and appointing current CEO Henry Pettigrew in 2018.

"House Bill 70 didn’t do anything but come in, take over our school system in East Cleveland, and put their foot on our necks,” said East Cleveland resident Dr. Nennanaye Brooks. “We’re doing worse, we are not functioning any better."

An Ohio Department of Education spokesperson confirmed the current state budget bill includes language that eliminates academic distress commissions and explained the Department of Education will comply with the language enacted.

While this change mends part of the Shaw protesters' efforts, their other motive is to bring back Mr. Wilson.

"I want Henry to speak on this and at least give him an apology, that’s the least you can do,” said Wilson’s daughter, Danielle. “Come out here, I want the ADC to come out and have a meeting with Henry.”

Shaw High School's principal, Larry Ellis shared the following statement with News 5 Cleveland:

I know there are strong emotions about Mr Wilson's decision to resign, and we certainly respect everyone's right to express their opinions and stage today's peaceful protest.

The Mighty Shaw High School Cardinal Marching Band has evolved and accomplished much during his tenure here. We all respect and recognize that. Our goal is to improve the band we all love. We expect to have some exciting news about that soon. We are determined to achieve even greater heights, and we are excited at the prospect of an even mightier marching band.

RELATED: Peaceful protest planned near Shaw High School on Monday

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