The group held a news conference at school board headquarters in Cary just before the chair of the Wake County School Board spoke in a separate news conference. Both news conferences were in response to two videos that surfaced this month. One video posted online shows three Leesville Road Middle School students using explicit and racially charged language.
RACIST VIDEO SENDS SHOCKWAVES THROUGH LEESVILLE ROAD MIDDLE
A second video was recorded at Wake Forest High School. It shows one student pushing down another student to the floor. That student behind the push said it was in response to two months of repeated racial harassment. He said he had reported it but nothing had been done.
WAKE FOREST HS STUDENT IN VIDEOED ALTERCATION SAYS HE COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE
Monika Johnson-Hostler, chairwoman of the Wake County School Board described the words in the video as reprehensible. She went on to say that these videos are unfortunately a symptom of a bigger community issue.
"These are not just Wake County public school issues, I'm going to take that ownership today, but it is community issues, and how do we work together as a community to look at the solutions so we can all meet our core values," said Johnson-Hostler. "Today I'm here to say that we are absolutely committed to address the racial tensions in the school system."
She said this Thursday, when principals gather to meet with Superintendent James Merrill during their regularly scheduled meeting, they plan to add what's happened as part of their discussion. Johnson-Hostler said this will give principals an opportunity to openly discuss what is going on in their schools.
"We're hoping that we're taking a full-breath approach, we have student advisers, we have teacher advisers, we have community partners that will continue to engage in these conversations, so my hope is that the solution is a solution we come to together," said Johnson-Hostler.
While she's hopeful that continuing to broaden the conversations in the community will help, Yolanda Speed said more talking isn't enough.
Speed is the mother of the Wake Forest High School teen now suspended for pushing that other student over alleged racial harassment.
"The slogan for me and always has been is not my son, not my daughter," said Speed. "To see your son or your daughter go through something like that and then you yourself feel helpless."
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"I also continue to say to parents the school system is one component of looking at the full potential of all our students so we do need our parents' engagement as well," said Johnson-Hostler. "My hope is that people hear this as a very sincere commentary to you all that our hope is that we're going to work together and rebuild those relationships for community members who feel that the trust has not been there."
In its own news conference, the NAACP said it plans to host its own conversation in the form of a community forum, where recent incidents will be discussed. Speed said she plans to attend.
Organizers call the forum "Unfair Discipline in Public Schools." They invite parents and all members of the community to attend. It will be held on Saturday, March 18, 10 a.m. to noon at the Martin Street Baptist Church.
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