HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Wednesday, Henrico’s school board hosted the first in what is being billed as ‘Listening Sessions,’ and during the virtual meeting, board members got an earful from concerned parents.
The board did more listening than talking during the meeting, getting feedback from parents to make the school system more equitable for all students.
Over an hour was spent listening to public comment, ranging from treatment of LGBTQ students, giving more academic resources to second language students, and the county’s gifted student program.
“This work isn’t just important to us - it’s foundational,” the school board said.
But much of the conversation centered around the controversy of Chair Michelle Ogburn’s now-deleted Facebook post which depicted an image of the Grinch raising his middle finger along with a poem critical of Dr. Seuss Enterprises. She’s since apologized, but parents who spoke fired back at the school board for not taking a stronger stance on the matter.
“How can we move forward with a chairperson that has shown racism and hate?” Henrico parent Martina Jones said. “Students get consequences for posting inappropriate pictures and words on social media platforms students, so what are the consequences going to be for the behaviors she has shown because we are sending mixed messages to our students?”
Not everyone was on board with the school board’s desire to implement equity concerns.
“I would love to see more around the unity of what we have in common and more unity on that we live in America,” Henrico parent Rebecca Jones said. “I know that we have struggled with kids that need to learn English, but I’m afraid that when you come to this country, you need to learn English.”
Using this feedback, the school board unveiled strategic goals they hope to meet by 2025, but some say that’s too long to have to wait.
“One hour is not enough time to discuss equity and diversity in Henrico County, to wait until 2025 is too long. Why do we have to wait until 2025 when we really need help with our schools now?” Susan Goldstein said.
The school board plans to hold two more virtual listening sessions over the next two months.
- Tuesday, April 27, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
- Topic: Relationships.
- Tuesday, May 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
- Topic: Academic Growth.
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