GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama NAACP gave parents and others a space to talk about racial discrimination claims in the Guntersville City School District (GCSD) on Tuesday evening.
Representatives from the Alabama NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and city officials attended the meeting – listening intently to those sharing stories of unfair treatment in the school system.
Guntersville District 1 City Councilman Sanchez Watkins says he’s heard these stories from several parents prior to this meeting and says something must be done.
“These kids are not lying. They’re not making this up. There are too many witnesses and too many stories being told and they all match up. I’m with y’all on this. It’s time. We’ve got to stick together on this. We’ve got to get something done about this…plain and simple,” stated Watkins.
One by one, parents stepped up to the podium and shared their concerns and experiences with unfair treatment in the school system. Current and former students doing the same.
Collectively, they all say they believe there’s a lack of response from administrators. They also believe disciplinary action is not being taken against teachers who verbally and physically abuse their children.
They’re calling for accountability.
Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton says they’ll work to compile all the claims and concerns they heard tonight, and will present them to the superintendent and school board.
GCS Superintendent Jason Barnett sent News 19 the following statement in regards to the town hall meeting:
“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.”
The NAACP is also working with the SPLC and ACLU to strategize on what can be done, and how they can work towards ensuring equity in the school system.