11 students won't walk at Richmond high school graduation ceremonies due to safety concerns

Posted at 5:34 PM, May 23, 2024

RICHMOND, Va. -- Eleven out of 1,000 Richmond Public Schools students will not be allowed to walk at graduation this year due to safety concerns, according to school officials. Those students are either court-involved or home-based, school officials said. Richmond Schools said a team of mental health professionals and security personnel were a part of that decision-making process.

Those decisions were made one year after the murder of Huguenot High School graduate Shawn Jackson.

Jackson was shot and killed outside the Altria Theater last June moments after his graduation ceremony.

An investigation report, which was only made public after CBS 6 and the Richmond Times Dispatch sued the school board for access, cited RPS for not following safety protocols.

The main finding was that Jackson should not have been allowed at the graduation in the first place because school workers knew of threats of violence against him, yet they never reported them, never conducted a threat assessment and they "squeezed him" into the ceremony.

Other changes made for 2024 ceremonies following the 2023 violence include:

  • Graduation ceremonies won't be held at the Altria Theater
  • Increased security personnel (RPS would not provide numbers)
  • One entrance for all guests
  • Everyone will be scanned with the weapons detector
  • Tickets are limited
  • Families cannot hang out outside venues once the graduation ends
  • Mental health workers stationed at graduation to provide support to those feeling anxious

Earlier this year, Amari Pollard pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in Jackson's murder. He was sentenced to 43 years, with 25 years of active prison time.

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

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