Broughton HS principal responds to claims of 'toxic' academic environment

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A local youth minister is raising concerns about Broughton High School.

Last week he went to the Wake County school board because of fears that were brought to him.

"I hear more stories now first-hand monthly and sometimes weekly about how difficult it is to exist inside that school," said Bryan Lee, youth minister at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.

A student at the school took his own life within the last month at Broughton.

The principal of the school, Elena Ashburn, responded to the concerns this week in an email to parents.

She emphasized three points: "The Broughton community is beautifully made of unique, talented individuals, the Broughton culture I know is one of love, compassion and inclusivity, and our children are counting on us."

"I know there are parts of being an adult that aren't going to be as easy," said Claire Porfilio, a senior at Broughton. "I know that both Broughton and the IB program have helped me develop into who I will be in college."

Lee described Broughton's culture as a "toxic" and even a "dangerous" environment for students, saying something needs to change.

"I feel like there is some hierarchy at Broughton but I think personally I've been able to manage it fairly well within my friend group," Porfilio said. "I think there's a problem of stress but I don't think that's limited to Broughton. Though it can be a stressful environment, I don't think it's fair to say it's because of that you can place blame for a suicide."

Lee is meeting with the school board on Wednesday morning.

Porfilio also pointed to a lack of resources for teachers--that they can't commit as much time as they'd like talking to students whereas they're worried about larger class sizes and grading.
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