Local News

Citizens Group: Principal Should Be Commended

Posted February 19, 2008 7:08 a.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2008 10:28 a.m. EST

— A Wake County citizens group announced Friday that it supports the principal who held separate assemblies for black and Hispanic students after a fight at her school in December.

In a news release, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children said Principal Teresa Abron “should be commended for her efforts to counsel the students who were accused of fighting.”

“As a community we believe that (Abron) should be commended for displaying courage, integrity, honor and commitment to our students here,” the statement read.

Abron said she pulled seventh-graders from class last December because of a fight between a black girl and a Hispanic girl.

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

In an internal e-mail sent after the fight, school administrators asked teachers to send black students to the school's auditorium, and when they returned, to send Hispanic students. The e-mail asked teachers to be as discreet as possible when dismissing the students.

"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.'"

White students were not called to the assembly, Abron said, because they were not identified as being involved. Had they been, they would also have been called, she said.

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

Coalition officials praised the principal for counseling the students as opposed to suspending the ones involved.

Some parents said they didn’t think Abron handled the situation appropriately.

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

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina expressed concerns over the assemblies and issued a statement that it was 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."

Rudinger said that by removing only blacks and Hispanics from class, Abron "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 was mixed. Abron said she has 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 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.