Recently, Lynchburg chapter leader Phil Stump was interviewed by Liz Ramos of the Lynchburg News & Advance when she covered the turnout issues the city schools have encountered in their efforts to hold “community conversations” with parents and other stakeholders in the schools.
From the article: “Lynchburg resident Phil Stump, who attended both alternative to suspension meetings and the family and community engagement meeting, said the conversations were ‘a wonderful idea,’ but he doesn’t see the division trying to reach out and hear from communities of color.
“’I think this was a wonderful beginning effort, but it really needs to be thought through more carefully and to be more aggressive in really getting out and listening to the community,’ Stump said. ‘I would just say in the future if they can publicize it really wide and send multiple reminders to people about [the meetings].’
“LCS Coordinator of Student Services Anne Bond-Gentry said some of the meetings’ locations could have played a factor in low participation, and Stump agreed. Some of the meetings were held at the division’s information technology building at 3550 Young Place by River Ridge mall.”
The article also brought up the issue of school suspensions, which the Lynchburg chapter has been drawing attention to for some time. Phil Stump was again an important voice in the conversation:
“Stump said Brown and LCS Supervisor of Secondary Counseling and Alternative Education Dashia Womack had ‘absolutely excellent’ and ‘very thorough’ presentations at the alternative to suspension meetings.
“’Even though there were only four of us community members present, they were just really, really prepared, and it was very informative and helpful,’ he said.
“Stump said he thinks the division’s movement from punitive discipline practices to positive behavior intervention supports, Virginia Tiered Systems of Support and restorative justice ‘are crucial to the lessening of suspensions.’ Stump is a member of the Lynchburg chapter of Virginia Organizing, an organization dedicated to challenging injustice within communities.
“’If you want to lessen suspensions, you really have to look at more innovative discipline that’s not based on punishment. Suspensions are just totally counterproductive to students’ educational development, and they contribute in a major way to the school-to-prison pipeline, and this was very clear in the presentation,’ Stump said.”