NHCS Superintendent weighs in on student suspensions, accusations that schools are teaching 'hate'
It’s the 67th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka ruling. That’s the decision that integrated the nation’s schools. To commemorate the historic event, the New Hanover County Chapter of the NAACP and the Freedom Hill Coalition hosted a discussion asking, ‘How far have we come?’
There were three panelists for the conversation, and one of them was the Superintendent for New Hanover County Schools Dr. Charles Foust.
The moderator for the discussion cited a statistic that during the 2018-2019 school year, there were over 2,900 suspensions and that more than half of those were Black students, even though they make up only 18% of the school population. Foust had a pointed response:
“We do an awesome job of suspending Black males, we do an awesome job, and I'm being facetious, of putting labels on Black males in special ed, and we do a great job of not putting them in our Academically or Intellectually Gifted (AIG) programs. And so the AIG program, we have schools where there aren't any students of color in them at all. And so we do a great job of isolating African American students, which then leads to suspension. And it all boils down to relationships," Foust said.
Foust was also asked about his take on the pushback against teaching equity and diversity in the district -- recently, some community members speaking during a school board meeting accused the school system of teaching children to hate White people.
“I'll be honest, it drives me crazy because individuals feel like someone is doing something to them, no one is doing anything to [them]. We are not teaching hate, and why would we ever subscribe to a curriculum that teaches hate? And I've even asked individuals, when they were saying that, provide me [with] evidence and artifacts, and provide for me [an example of a] school that this actually is happening in, and they can't do it. It's just rhetoric," Foust said.
Foust added that most of the people making these accusations are not part of the teaching profession, in essence calling into question their standing in making these claims.
Other topics of discussion Foust weighed in on were universal pre-K, teacher and principal evaluations, and school resource officers.
Below is the recorded discussion (*Note: If the video does not appear, refresh the page):