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Citizens Voice Complaints About Education

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2016

By Luci Weldon

The Nov. 22 Warren County Board of Education Parents Forum began with citizens voicing complaints

about local education, but ended with a call for the community to work together to help students.

There is nothing more important than parents being involved in their childrens education, Barbara

Brayboy, board of education chairwoman, said.

Warrenton attorney Al Thompson, who serves as legal counsel for the board of education, addressed

previous calls by the community for board members to provide an immediate response to citizen concerns

raised during board meetings.

Referring to state statutes defining school boards as corporate bodies, he said that a single board member

cannot state the position of the board as a whole or promise that the board will take certain action.

It could disqualify them from proceedings related to those things or call into question the actions of the

board, Thompson said.

Those who raised concerns included Warren County High School students Jeffrey Hayes, Victoria

Richardson and Malik Williams. Hayes called for better communication between students and the board,

saying that students dont know board members. Richardson expressed concern about high teacher

turnover, and Williams asked about the quality of a Warren County education.

Are students being prepared for college? he asked.

Several parents repeated Hayes statement that students dont know board members, others asked about

the lack of textbooks, and others raised concerns about student discipline.
Rory Richardson said that teachers take students out of class for disrupting instruction, but the disruptive

students seem to return minutes later.

What authority do teachers have? he asked. You cant hold back 20 students for one or two. Hold

students accountable.

Several citizens expressed the need for more teachers, particularly those with a passion for their work, and

for reinstating teachers aides. Barbara Espinosa said that teachers are overwhelmed. She called on parents

to help out by joining the parent-teacher association at their childrens schools, volunteering in the schools,

and staying informed about education-related issues by attending school board meetings.

Espinosa said that the community must work together to improve the schools, but placed the blame for the

local low-performing schools on the board of education. She told board members to carry out their duties

and improve education.

Several local residents expressed concerns about school uniforms, asking about the school systems goal

when the uniform policy was adopted and data concerning its effectiveness, why jackets with hoods are not

allowed, and whether regulations about shoes can be changed because shoes in solid colors are hard to


Student Regine Palmer asked whether the uniform policy was implemented to end bullying, but said that

bullying still takes place.

Other citizen concerns related to the state grade of F for some local schools, age and condition of school

buses, a call for surprise drug testing of bus drivers, and elimination of mold and mildew where needed.

Following the list of complaints, some local residents sounded the call for the community to help Warren

County Schools improve education, calling for parents to support teaches and the board of education

however they can. Tyrone Melton urged the community to develop a plan showing how they would help the

school system and present the plan to the board of education.

Quit talking, he said. We need to work together to come up with a plan.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ray Spain encouraged those attending to join a school system advisory

committee which includes parents and school staff members.

Chelsa Jennings, Warren County Schools curriculum and instruction director, said that the school system

wants to partner with the community to reach its goal of making sure that students are college and career


Parent Jennifer Tucker said that local parents and community members must become involved if they want

education to improve, and that parents must feel welcome in the schools.

It takes everybody to work together. We are here to work together, she said. The school board is sincere.

We need to hold them accountable, and they need to hold us accountable.

Tucker urged students and parents to communicate with teachers if they notice problems such as gangs so

that something can be done. She also encouraged parents to talk with their children about the positive

aspects of local schools so that they will not be bombarded with negative emotions.

In response to citizen concerns, Spain said that some actions, such as a move to digital textbooks and

funding allocations for teacher assistants, are controlled by the N.C. General Assembly, adding that local

organizations are working to ensure that students have devices to access the digital textbooks.

Board of education member Roberta Scott called on citizens to express their concerns to the General


Spain said that more community forums would be planned in upcoming months, and board member Calvin

Jones asked local residents to maintain their spirit of working together for the good of students.

We can come up with a solution, or we can come here fighting, he said. The key is communication. We

must start working together.