LYNCHBURG, Va. – Lynchburg’s black community leaders are demanding school board members fire a teacher who expressed opposition to recent Black History Month event, though no one will explain what the man said.
An unnamed teacher at P.L. Dunbar Middle School interrupted a Black History Month student assembly Feb. 26, cutting off gospel singers to denounce the event before inviting students to follow him in a walkout, The News & Advance reports.
The “Brotherhood Assembly” on Friday featured the Liberty University gospel choir LU Praise, dancers, and employee speakers, but it remains unclear what sparked the teachers actions, or if others were involved.
“During the assembly, an employee interrupted the program by going to the microphone on the stage during the singing performance to express his offense with this portion of the program, and offered the students an opportunity to leave the auditorium with him,” superintendent Scott Brabrand and Dunbar principal Kacey Crabbe wrote in a letter to parents.
School and district officials have refused to discuss any other details beyond the statement, other than to confirm they placed the teacher on administrative leave as they “address issues of mutual respect and understanding along with the appropriate ways of expressing disagreement.”
Whatever the teacher said, it made local black folks very angry, and many called for the teacher’s termination at a school board meeting Tuesday night, WDBJ reports.
“Help us ensure that this never happens again in any of our schools,” said an unidentified black woman with crew cut red hair.
“I think the school board owes the citizens of Lynchburg accountability,” Leroy Mitchell told WDBJ. “I think there ought to be some repercussions. I think it’s very discouraging to the students.”
“We do not want this teacher in our neighborhood any more,” an elderly black woman told the board.
Another black woman in a yellow sweater told board members she “came tonight to express my contempt with such an arrogant and intolerant display of bigotry.”
Former Lynchburg Mayor Carl Hutcherson also attended to support those calling for the teacher’s termination.
“We live with all kinds of decisions that take place in our lives and in our society but we’re hoping for the best for our children at Dunbar and the children throughout the city,”
B.B. Shavers, a local star athlete turned felon turned black activist, claimed that if it was a black student who disrupted an assembly the student would be arrested.
“This is Lynchburg 2016, not 1956,” Shavers said. “We must come together to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
None of the speakers described what the teacher actually said.
School board members would not discuss the issue, citing an ongoing personnel investigation.
Superintendent Brabrand told The News & Advance district officials are interviewing people who attended the assembly, including the teacher, before they determine their next course of action, but would not say how long that process would take.
The school board requested a copy of the investigation if school officials opt not to take action against the teacher. Niche.com shows just over half of Dunbar Middle School students are black, about 36 percent are white, and the rest of another race.