Guntersville parents accuse school district of treating minorities unfairly

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 11:50 PM CDT
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GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Parents of minority students in Guntersville City Schools have accused the district of treating their children differently because of the color of their skin.

On Tuesday night, the NAACP alongside the Southern Poverty Law Center held a town hall for a community conversation on the issue.

Lavanna Snead says black students are disciplined more severely than white students for the same infractions.

Snead said her son and two other biracial students got off the bench during a soccer match when a fight broke out, and were punished severely.

“There were white students who also left the bench, and did the same exact thing my son did,” Snead said. “But they weren’t suspended or held accountable, or made an example out of.”

Other parents at the meeting say problems like these are common. Teleah Holder said her daughter has encountered numerous acts of racism from both teachers and students alike.

“The teacher told Latayvia, that calling herself stupid, was the equivalent of calling herself the N-Word,” Snead said. “It hurts as a parent, watching my daughter hurt going to a school system she felt was not for her,” said Holder.

Bernard Simelton, President of the NAACP, believes open dialogue is the best policy.

“We’re looking just to hear what the complaints are so that we’ll be able to fully understand the gravity of the complaints in the Guntersville city school systems,” Simelton said.

Many parents stated showing up to the polls is key when it comes to choosing who will directly oversee how their child’s education will be handled.

In response to the meeting, Superintendent Barnet released the following statement:

“In recent days, I learned about the upcoming NAACP Town Hall meeting. We always appreciate the opportunity to hear from and engage with members of our community. In a previous meeting I had with Mr. Simelton, President of the Alabama NAACP, I found our conversation to be quite productive, and I have recently called to express my willingness to communicate with him regarding the town hall meeting where I can learn more about the various concerns that have been raised and how we can all work together in support of our students.”

Neither Guntersville City School Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnet nor any board of education members attended the meeting. Only an assistant principal for Guntersville High attended.

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