An assistant principal at Chapel Hill High has been removed after NAACP leaders say a summer school student was taken to UNC Hospitals without his mother being told or any school official accompanying him.
Local NAACP and faith leaders called for the removal of the assistant principal, as well as a school resource officer they say was negligent.
The assistant principal, Julie Hennis, who has worked for the district for eight years and earns $60,425 a year, is being reassigned, a school official confirmed Friday.
The resource officer’s status with the school is unknown, as he works for the police department. Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said he didn’t know anything about the situation.
School board Chairwoman Jamezetta Bedford declined to comment.
According to an email from the NAACP to the school board, at about 9:50 a.m. on a day during summer school, a 16-year-old boy collapsed unconscious and was rushed to the hospital. The email says only one person tried to call the emergency number for the child’s mother.
The child was not accompanied by a school official at the hospital, the email says. The email continues to say that when the mother arrived around 12:30 p.m. to pick her son up, he was not there. No one gave her any information until 12:50 p.m. She was then told that her son had been taken to the hospital.
Upon her arrival to the hospital, she could not find him by his name. She later found out he was labeled as John Doe.
The email also asserts that when the mother spoke to Hennis, she was told her son would “probably be expelled for having alcohol on school premises.”
“The manifold details surrounding this case not to mention the harm that has been done to this mother and scars that this child will no doubt carry are so disturbing and hard to fathom on so many levels,” the email to the board says. “We cannot believe that this type of reckless behavior on the part of school personnel has happened in a school district that is as resource rich and staffed with highly competent and capable school officials as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.”
According to the CHCCS student code of conduct: “School personnel who observe students in possession of drugs or who suspect that a student is under the influence of a controlled or illegal substance are required to report the concern immediately to school administration. The school administrator will notify the School Resource Officer, parent, and the School Assistance Program school contact as indicated.”
A first offense carries a possible three-day suspension. The punishment goes up to a 10 day-suspension with a recommendation for long-term suspension for a third offense, according to the code.
Efforts to reach the boy’s mother for comment were unsuccessful Friday.
At Thursday night’s school board meeting two people rose to speak about the situation.
“Think about what you would do if it were your child,” said Michelle Laws, a former Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP president. “I’ve been in this district long enough and as a product of this district, I strongly believe that if that were a child of another particular family composition, that we would not be standing before you today.”
Former school board member Greg McElveen said the district needs to change the school culture and hold staff accountable for their actions.
“I believe that the board has an opportunity to demonstrate that it’s more than rhetoric that the district is serious about placing value on all students and not accepting teachers and staff members who clearly disregard our policies and our priorities,” McElvee said. “There is as you know an egregious situation that has occurred recently in which a staff member clearly showed disregard for the welfare of a student in a medical emergency. A situation that could have even risked the person’s life.”
The NAACP is requesting that Hennis, who is white, be removed from her post and not be put in any leadership position in the district, that the SROs actions be investigated, the district provides a report to the community detailing specifically the ways in which teachers and administrators are being held accountable for their performance specifically with outcomes of black students and economically disadvantaged students
“Plain and simple our children are not lab rats for administrators to learn responsible and proficient leadership and management skills,” the email states.
It was signed by multiple pastors and NAACP members in the community.