NAACP addresses concerns with some scheduled to speak at Mechanicsville High School graduation

Posted at 5:14 PM, May 31, 2024

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The President of the Hanover NAACP spoke out Friday on behalf of some members of the Mechanicsville High School community concerned with two students scheduled to speak at Saturday's graduation ceremony.

The concerns center around claims that the students allegedly used racist, misogynistic, and homophobic language toward some classmates. Screenshots of the alleged messages taken off a chat platform students use to communicate were shared recently on social media.

“These things can’t just be excused and swept under the rug," Hanover NAACP President Pat Jordan said. "The representation the students feel is not of them. It is not our NAACP coming forward saying they shouldn’t. It is the students coming forward saying we don’t want this representation and this is not who we are."

The concerned students did not speak out themselves because of fears of retaliation.

A spokesperson for the district said they have been made aware of the 2022 screenshots, but added state law, federal law, and school board policy prevented them from disclosing information about specific student matters. Instead, the spokesperson shared the school system's general approach regarding similar situations.

They said they fully investigate allegations involving student misconduct and, in limited circumstances, also investigate alleged violations that may have occurred outside school hours.

Officials said once an investigation concluded, any applicable discipline would be administered in line with the student code of conduct.

“Please know that we firmly believe in providing a safe, healthy, and nurturing learning environment for all students and staff. We are greatly looking forward to the four joyful celebrations tomorrow that will recognize the hard work over the past 13 years of all of the members of this year’s graduating class," Hanover School Board Chair Bob May said. “In the meantime, we remain excited for the hundreds of students in the Class of 2024 who have worked very hard to celebrate this important milestone on Saturday. It is our hope that the ceremonies will honor the efforts and accomplishments of all students, as well as be a joyful occasion for the thousands of family members and friends who will be in attendance.”

Some graduates told CBS 6 they planned to turn their backs during the speeches because they believed the speakers' behavior did not represent them.

“We want it to be a fact that there is zero tolerance for bullying in Hanover County Schools and we have not been able to get that," Jordan said. “We support them and know what they have gone through and we want to bring this to light so the class of 2025 possibly won't experience this."

The NAACP said it planned to represent the students concerned and challenge the board to change their policy moving forward.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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