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The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Petition Urges District to Replace Fudge

Students, teachers and community members respond to commencement speaker choice
The petition, posted on, reached 169 signatures in fewer than eight hours.

A petition urging the district to replace Marcia L. Fudge as commencement speaker is circulating throughout the community, based on Fudge’s past support of Lance Mason.

The petition, created by senior Catherine Monroe, has reached 169 signatures in fewer than eight hours. It calls for Fudge to “be immediately replaced with a speaker who better represents our values and is at the very least sensitive to the class of 2024’s lived experiences.” The district announced Fudge as commencement speaker last Friday.  

In 2015, Fudge wrote a letter advocating for a lighter sentence for Mason, a Cuyahoga County judge, when he pleaded guilty to assaulting Aisha Fraser, his wife. At the time, Fudge was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Mason went on to murder Fraser, a sixth-grade teacher at Woodbury, in 2018.

“The current selection of Marcia L. Fudge as the commencement speaker for the class of 2024 does not align with the values we uphold in Shaker Heights,” the petition states. “As a community, we believe in promoting safety and justice. Ms. Fudge’s support for an individual found guilty of domestic violence against our beloved Aisha Fraser contradicts these principles.”

Executive Director of Communications and Public Relations Scott Stephens declined to comment on behalf of the district.

Senior David Hackney, whom Fraser taught math and social studies, said Fudge is not an appropriate choice to speak at commencement. “I strongly dislike how she never apologized in her statement after Ms. Fraser’s death and instead made excuses justifying her poor choice,” he said in a text message.

John Koppitch, a middle school teacher, criticized the decision in a comment when he signed the petition. “Aisha deserves better, she was an angel on earth,” he wrote.

Abby Haffke, a junior who was in Fraser’s class when she was murdered, also signed the petition objecting to Fudge. “I do not think she’s anywhere near the right choice,” she said in a text message. “Given the information presented and having had Ms. Fraser, her opportunity to speak at commencement is improper.”

Mary Scribner wrote in a comment on the petition that her children attended school with Fraser. “Students in this graduating class were Aisha’s students. She, among others, was a most positive influence in the lives of those graduating,” Scribner wrote. “The graduates and those adding to their accomplishments are the ones to be celebrated.”

Dennis Brown, who graduated last year, said Dr. David Glasner, the superintendent, should not have picked Fudge, knowing that members of this year’s graduating class were Fraser’s students.

Glasner said Monday that he decides who speaks at commencement alongside the district’s communications department. According to Glasner, the district makes an effort to prioritize alumni and hall of fame members when selecting speakers.

“We try to provide kind of a diverse range of commencement speakers, both in terms of professional fields, experiences, demographics, so we keep that in mind also as something to consider,” Glasner said. Fudge, a member of the alumni hall of fame, graduated from the high school in 1971. She retired as secretary of Housing and Urban Development last month.

Brown said he plans to sign the petition. “If I’m being honest, I don’t think that Superintendent David Glasner is taking this issue serious enough,” he said in a text message.

Brown said he understands that Fudge has not been available to speak until this year. “However, this year is not an appropriate year to have [her] speak,” he said.

“This is not a good look for Shaker Heights High School,” wrote Michael Monroe, another signee. “It’s totally tone deaf.”

Said Haffke, “I was unfortunately unable to have Ms. Fraser for my entire sixth grade year given that I am in the class of 2025, but Marcia Fudge is the last person I would want to speak at graduation.”

Alyson Garfield contributed reporting. 

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