Wake County principals had a closed-door discussion Thursday as part of an effort to respond to racial tensions in schools that were highlighted in two recent viral videos.
The Wake County school system has been rocked by a pair of racially charged videos involving students at Leesville Road Middle School in Raleigh and Wake Forest High School that have brought complaints from groups such as the NAACP. In response, school leaders added a discussion about the videos to a previously scheduled meeting Thursday of all of Wake’s 177 principals.
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“Given the recent racial incidents that we’ve had at our schools, we felt it was important to bring our principals together to have an open and intentional conversation about race and issues of race in our schools,” said Rodney Trice, Wake’s assistant superintendent for equity affairs.
Administrators will report to the school board on Tuesday with recommendations on how to address racial issues in North Carolina’s largest school district. Trice said administrators also want to hear the school board’s suggestions.
One video shows a Wake Forest High student pulling a white classmate to the floor twice on March 2, including once after being called a “black piece of (expletive).” The student, who was suspended for five days, has said his actions were triggered by months of racial harassment and a death threat from the white student that were not dealt with by the school.
A video posted online last week shows three Leesville Road Middle students making derogatory remarks about different racial and ethnic groups and chanting “KKK, KKK.” School officials have said the students “received appropriate disciplinary action.”
At a news conference Tuesday, school board Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler said school leaders “are absolutely committed to addressing the racial tensions in our school system.”
Trice said Thursday’s meeting created an opening for principals to share what they’ve been experiencing at the school level. Trice said it was important to hear from those who are on the “front lines.”
“Our approach is to move away from finger pointing and blaming and really use this as an opportunity to draw closer as a community,” he said. “We’re going to use these incidents to do that.”