Community members allege racism in Powhatan Schools: 'Our kids are not safe'

Teacher: 'It’s heartbreaking it took a kid to share this picture for this to even happen. He shouldn’t be the one that is protecting us, we should be protecting him.'
Posted at 5:43 PM, Mar 08, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-08 17:47:52-05

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. -- The Powhatan Chapter of the NAACP has demanded the Powhatan County Public Schools take action following an alleged racial discrimination incident that took place at Powhatan High School.

The NAACP chapter hosted an emergency meeting Thursday night in response to a picture shared on social media that allegedly showed a student with a racial slur written on their arm.

Chapter members alleged no repercussions have taken place since the photo was made public and expressed issues with what they see as daily racism taking place in the school system.

"Our kids are not safe," one person said at the meeting. "This is a five-alarm fire and you are not treating it as such."

“We have ongoing unchecked discrimination much of it is racial," added another.

"It’s heartbreaking it took a kid to share this picture for this to even happen," a Powhatan High School teacher said at the meeting. "He shouldn’t be the one that is protecting us, we should be protecting him."

One by one parents and teachers came forward during the meeting sharing racist incidents they said children of color face in Powhatan Schools.

One mom shared how her son was repeatedly made fun of for his hair being different, called racial slurs, as well as being told racist insults.

"The child then said I should be taking away your rights like we did in the day," she said.

The NAACP has called for the Powhatan Superintendent and School Board to put out a public statement denouncing the incidents and take a hard stand that racism will not be tolerated in schools. They are also asking for policy changes to increase the consequences for students behaving in this way.

“At a bare minimum, they should provide a safe, strong secure place for children to nourish and learn and this ain't it," Deon Allen said.

CBS 6 first reached out to Powhatan Superintendent Dr. Beth Teigen in February to confirm the allegations and comment on the community's concerns, but we did not hear back from her.

Additionally, we reached out o her and Powhatan School Board members on Thursday, but have not yet received a response.

Community members said they do not plan to stop pushing for change.

The NAACP urged community members and parents to document incidents involving their students so they can be addressed.

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