HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico schools are deciding who will lead the effort for racial equality in schools. This after NBC12 was the first to share video of racially and sexually offensive activity in the Short Pump Middle School locker room.
Parents are now mobilizing to say they want more of a role in the decisions that impact their children. They believe this is the silver lining in an unfortunate situation that caused so much hurt.
"In a sense, do you think this incident has brought people together?" NBC 12 asked.
"Definitely. I mean, I didn't know her before this," parent Ngozi Ibe said, looking at fellow parent Sally Martin.
The parents of Short Pump Middle School students have banded together with some 400 others who are now involved in a group called FACES, Families Advocating for Communication and Equity in Schools.
"The video is what prompted us in getting together and organizing our efforts," Martin said.
She's referring to the offensive locker room video that led to the school's football team forfeiting the season.
"Many of the football players were taken into administrative offices and asked to write statements and their parents were not notified and knew nothing about that until the news story broke," Martin said.
FACES has even created an online petition calling for greater accountability from school officials.
"They're kind of shutting the parents out," Ibe alleged.
"We embrace the opportunity to connect and move the school division forward in a positive manner. It's all about creating positive conditions for our students … As we approach the New Year, we're absolutely interested in hearing from folks who work well with others, and who can help move the school division forward in a constructive manner," Henrico Schools spokesman Andy Jenks said in a statement.
Some parents want more, pointing to how a nearby school district alerted parents of a physical altercation involving a student and teacher.
"We're not going to say who it was, what they did, but you may want to talk to your kids about what happened today.' Wouldn't that be wonderful?" Martin said.
"So you don't feel you get that kind of communication?" NBC12 asked.
"Absolutely not. We would've really liked that same type of attitude when this recent incident happened at Short Pump Middle School," she replied.
"We want to be that model school system where other schools reach out to us and say 'you had this awful situation and yet you've grown and become this amazing entity' and they want to learn from us," Ibe added.
The group says they've met with the principal and assistant principal at Short Pump and believes collaboration will be possible.
"Short Pump Middle School remains committed to engaging its community. Staff there over the last few weeks have continued to make substantial efforts to support the needs/concerns of the school community. For example, they've been working closely with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities to offer numerous parent engagement sessions at the school. However, interested participants were minimal, and discussion sessions were pared down to accommodate the low numbers," Jenks said in the statement.
FACES will hold a free event Thursday called Protecting Your Child's Civil Rights in School. to help parents know their rights. The Legal Aid Justice Center will make a presentation. The event will be held at the Twin Hickory Library from 7- 8:15 p.m.
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