What: Portsmouth School Board meeting
When: Thursday, September 8 at 7 p.m.
Where: Portsmouth City Hall, 6th Floor (801 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704)
Portsmouth, Va.—Leaders from the Portsmouth Chapter of Virginia Organizing plan to speak at the city School Board meeting on September 8 at 7 p.m. at Portsmouth City Hall (801 Crawford Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704) during the public comment period to raise awareness about the school-to-prison pipeline and encourage School Board members to act on this issue.
“I joined Virginia Organizing’s campaign to reduce suspensions recently because I have three boys who have been suspended in Portsmouth Public Schools,” said Virginia Organizing Portsmouth Chapter leader Unique Green. “Most recently, my youngest son, age five, was suspended from Kindergarten for two days because he stole another boy’s teddy bear. Zero tolerance policies are out of control in Portsmouth, and need to be ended.”
“My daughter has an emotional disability and was expelled from Churchland High School last year for fighting with another student who had bullied her for years prior,” said Alice Bauman. “I am worried for her safety as she returns to school this week, as the school focuses more on zero tolerance than on correcting cases of bullying.”
“Last week, a complaint was filed against the U.S. Department of Education on behalf of two students who were suspended in Richmond. We hope that Portsmouth will take a different path,” said Portsmouth Chapter leader Reverend Julia Dorsey Loomis. “Portsmouth Virginia Organizing Chapter leaders sympathize with teachers whose large class size makes it difficult to handle disciplinary problems. We are asking that the school board find innovative ways to support teachers to use restorative rather than punitive methods of discipline.”
“Virginia Organizing leaders are speaking on Thursday to thank the School Board members who have met with us and who are continuing to work on this issue,” said Virginia Organizing Portsmouth Chapter leader Sergio Neal. “We want to ask them to create a parent advocate program and to give public monthly updates on suspension increases and decreases at School Board meetings.”
Community leaders in Portsmouth have been meeting with School Board officials and working to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and address systemic problems in local education such as the high suspension rates and zero tolerance policies. Virginia Organizing Chapters in several localities are addressing this issue.
To interview a spokesperson for Virginia Organizing, please contact Amanda Pohl at 804-337-1912 or firstname.lastname@example.org.