Superintendent responds to allegations of racism at Chesterfield schools

Superintendent responds to allegations of racism at Chesterfield schools

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Superintendent Dr. James Lane is speaking out after allegations of racism and political intimidation at two high schools in Chesterfield.

Earlier this week, viewers reached out to 12 On Your Side claiming racial tensions at Cosby and Midlothian High are leaving many students feeling threatened. One school even sent a letter home to parents.

It's supposed to be an exciting week at Cosby and Midlothian High - both gearing up for their big homecoming game this weekend. Two separate situations at the schools find some saying this is anything but exciting.

This group text message made its way to social media:

"Apparently the [racial slur] are wearing Black to protest America Day tomorrow."

"It hurts. It really hurts," said Sonia Smith of Chesterfield's Education Association.

She heard from multiple parents saying their children viewed it as an offensive threat.

"There's a responsibility with everything that we say, even when there is free speech," she said.

NBC12 got ahold of a letter Midlothian High's principal sent home as a result.

"We must work together to teach our students to respect one another…The conversations that have occurred in our community are not okay or acceptable," it says.

At the same time, another incident was unfolding at Cosby High.

A viewer wrote NBC12: "Many students wore Trump gear and Confederate flags. Students said things like 'the south will rise again' and told some of the African-American students to keep looking when they saw the Confederate flag."

School spokesperson Shawn Smith confirmed one student voluntarily put away the Confederate flag when school administrators noticed it.

"We want every single one of our students to feel safe and welcome in our schools," said Superintendent James Lane.

He chimed in at this week's School Board meeting.

"I certainly have no tolerance for students who engage in language that's inappropriate racially, and we're certainly not going to tolerate it," Dr. Lane said.

"Never in my wildest dreams could I ever imagine that I would have to have this type of discussion about this type of language pointed directly at one particular community in 2017," Sonia Smith added.

As for the incident at Midlothian, the principal says he's reminded students there are consequences for "actions that create a disruptive or hostile learning environment." No word what if any disciplinary action was taken.

Letter from Midlothian High School Principal Shawn Abel:

Greetings Midlothian Community, this is your principal, Shawn Abel, with a special message.

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