Shaker Heights plans to rejoin the Lake Erie League in the 2020-2021 season, citing diversity/cultural sensitivity issues in its current conference, the Greater Cleveland Conference, as well as leadership changes and shorter travel time as reasons for the move.
The board of education unanimously approved the move, pending an impact review, according to a Jan. 10 news release.
The school district indicated student-athletes “have had to deal with multiple instances where they have been the subject of racial slurs on the athletic playing fields.”
“While our student-athletes have dealt with each of these incidents in a remarkably poised way, it is something that must be given serious consideration when making a decision about conference affiliation. The lack of diversity and cultural sensitivity in some of the communities in the GCC is a real concern,” the release read.
The Greater Cleveland Conference is made up of Brunswick, Elyria, Euclid, Medina, Mentor, Shaker Heights, Solon and Strongsville. The Lake Erie League is made up of Bedford, Cleveland Heights, Lorain, Maple Heights, East Cleveland and Warrensville Heights.
The move is also the result of new Lake Erie League leadership, which Shaker Heights noted has led to more professionalism and cohesion in the league. Shaker Heights left the Lake Erie League in 2012.
The release said the change aims to improve athletic competitiveness and allow some sports greater flexibility to schedule out-of-conference games. The switch is also expected to reduce travel time and costs.
Garfield Heights has also been invited to join the Lake Erie League, but its school board has yet to make a decision.