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Principal Separates Black, Hispanic Students After Fight; ACLU Weighs In

Posted December 5, 2007
Updated December 10, 2007

— A middle school principal who pulled black and Hispanic students out of class for separate assemblies on conduct issues says she would do it again if she had to.

Dillard Drive Middle School Principal Teresa Abron said she pulled seventh-graders from class on Tuesday because of a fight that morning between a black girl and a Hispanic girl.

"We are in a better place today than we were yesterday because of the conversation with our students," Abron said.

Wake County Public School System officials said the fight had gang overtones to it and that one of the girls wore an article of clothing to school in an effort to intimidate the other girl.

Friends of both students also became involved in a heated argument, officials said.

"All of the students were not involved, but we were not able to identify all of the students," Abron said. "We prefaced our conversation with telling the students that 'we know some of you don't need to be here.'"

Abron and an assistant principal talked about conduct and grades. She said she had the honor roll students stand up as a "good example" for everyone else.

"We addressed respect and responsibility," Abron said. "We talked about academics. We talked about school attire."

She said there is not an ongoing problem with gangs or racism at the school, but she called the separate assemblies in effort to resolve any problems before they got bigger.

Wake County schools spokesman Michael Evans said the system was not concerned with Abron's actions and that the issue was handled on the school level as it should have been.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina expressed concerns over the assemblies, issuing a statement that it is looking into the reports.

"Principal Abron is to be commended for attempting to respond to the specific altercation that occurred and for attempting to promote non-violence," executive director Jennifer Rudinger said. "Unfortunately, her methods of addressing these issues will only further divide students based on race or ethnicity and exacerbate the problems in her school."

In an e-mail sent Tuesday after the fight, school administrators ask that teachers send black students to the school's auditorium at 1:55 p.m., and when they returned, to send Hispanic students. The e-mail asked teachers to be as discreet as possible when dismissing the students.

White students were not called to the assembly, Abron said, because none of them was identified as being involved. Had they been, they would also have been called, she said.

"Do white students need to work on their attire, their grades and the way they act in school?" Abron said. "Yes, I think at some given point, all students need to be reminded of what is appropriate and what is not appropriate. Some need to be reminded more than others, depending on what the situation is."

Rudinger said that by removing only blacks and Hispanics from class, she "unwittingly perpetuated the stereotype that students of color are 'problem students' who must be dealt with, while white students do not need to attend the assembly because white students are less likely to get into trouble."

Local reaction has been mixed. Abron said she's received positive response from both parents and students about how she handled the situation.

"When kids exited, they were saying, 'Thank you, Mrs. Abron, thank you,'" she said. "That is a good thing to me."

Paul Architetto, a technology teacher, was at at the assembly and said he thought Abron's actions were appropriate.

"I thought it was good, straight talk that needed to be said," he said.

Some parents were unaware of the assembly and others were unsure whether it was appropriate.

"I personally would not have suggested doing that," said parent Patty Knio. "I would have done it another way."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • frenzeegrrl Dec 11, 2007


    A suspected gang related incident, too

  • imback Dec 7, 2007

    'I don't think they choose to come here illegally, they simply have no other choice."

    Yea, right. We allow more legal immigrants from Mexico than any other country. So, what would you do to fix the immigration laws? Allow more to come in? And after that would you enforce the law against the rest who break in? Or is just nice to stick your head in the sand and give everyone big hugs?

  • haggis basher Dec 7, 2007

    " Like plenty have said before me, if a bunch of Asian and white kids went at it and then were given separate conferences to deal with the issue, I doubt we'd be debating it."

    I would be. Its going from bad to worse. The kids respond in an adult manner and raise a petition (with at 200+ signatures) only to have it ripped up by an Assistant Principal. Very adult.

  • Starlyte Dec 7, 2007

    I see her daily, she is the whitest black woman I ever seen.
    Crazyness...regardless...she shoulda pulled the whole school in the assembly!!

    Today there was TONS of security at the school. Guess what, we as parents have NO clue whats going on...again. This is getting to be more than annoying. How uncomfortable to pull up and see all this security...and know NOTHING.

  • Chesire Grin Dec 7, 2007

    Haggis -

    I would address your claim of -misuse of the Confederate battle flag- if your overuse of exclamation marks didn't make your post painful to my eyes. And again, I say, she did the right thing in taking out ALL of the students. Like plenty have said before me, if a bunch of Asian and white kids went at it and then were given separate conferences to deal with the issue, I doubt we'd be debating it. You see racism where none exists because you believe if anything, ever, at all happens to anyone with a hue darker then your average tanned beach blond, it must be racism. God forbid anyone who gets in trouble just happen to be black or hispanic. And any of the kids who were not involved more then likely were quite happy to be pulled out of class and allowed to nap through an auditorium speech. I know I loved to do so when things like that happened back when I was in High School.

  • blessutoo Dec 7, 2007

    Starlyte- Trust me, she is not white. Yes, I see her picture as everyone else here does. I know her personally, her husband and kids.

  • blessutoo Dec 7, 2007

    fyi- Never have I said that an african-american couldn't be a racist however, I do believe that professional african-american would be more sensitive therefore less prone to commit a racist act. She did state that had non-minority students been involved in the fight, then they too would have had an assembly.(separate!) As far as her being promoted above her abilities, who's in the position to say that. I believe that her decision was an admiral one but people as a whole are too judgemental when others make decisions that not everyone agrees with. I'm sure someone at your job probably feels the same way about you and probably someone at mine thinks likewise about me. Nobody wants to make a decision when it concerns children because of the harshness, racism etc. That could be part of the problem with our youth today.

  • yhwhoverptah Dec 7, 2007

    I think we need to take a look at giving a new definition to racism. Too many things can be considered "racist" these days. I think something should only be deemed racist if in fact there was mallicious intent behind it. If the cafeteria lunch lady gives little Jorge a taco for lunch, even though he wanted meatloaf but didn't know enough english to ask for it, is that racist? No, its stereotypical, but not racist. There was no ill intent.

    Likewise, I think this principal wanted to seperate these groups of people and say "look, have some pride in yourselves, have some pride in your group. You're making yourself look like fools to everyone else, and you're lumping everyone of your group in with you when you do that. So stop it". No ill intent.

    When I see a redneck punk on Cops getting beat up by his wife after he slapped her when he was drunk, I say "man, this dude makes white people look bad". Same concept. I wouldn't mind getting an anti-spouse abuse flyer on my door.

  • haggis basher Dec 7, 2007

    "And the white students didn't get pulled out because, fancy that, THEY WEREN'T FIGHTING THAT DAY."

    And neither were most of the Black or Hispanic kids!!!!! I hope you are not a typical abuser of the Battle Flag of the Confederacy but I suspect otherwise.

  • Starlyte Dec 7, 2007

    She is NOT black! She is white, the asst. principal who helped assemble was black. Not like this matters just clearing this up. Did the person who say she was black not see her big ol face in the article lol..

    ALSO, this was not a physical fight. This was a "heated verbal argument", then tension apparently was thick during the day between the "african americans and hispanic seventh graders", according to her voicemail when she finally notified the parents. Also what started this all was the "hispanic student making a poor judgement by wearing a blue bandana tied to her leg".

    She tried to this discreetly she claims..oops the news found out. As for students thanking her as she claimed on the news, I find that hard to believe. The students, all grade levels for the majority are upset over this. Some students sent petitions to the office, to the 7th grade asst. principal only to have them ripped up and then the kids were written up. For voicing their concerns no less.