Community Airs Concerns Over Racial Issue at Albemarle County School Board Meeting

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Parents aired their concerns about racial issues at Western Albemarle High School (WAHS) at the Albemarle County School Board meeting on Thursday. People from all over central Virginia spoke out at the meeting in light of an allegedly racist poster found after a girls’ basketball game on Monday.

After a game at WAHS, Fluvanna County High School basketball players say they discovered a poster in the English classroom they were using as a locker room. The poster allegedly had a racial slur written on it, pictures of guns, and symbols associated with the Ku Klux Klan. 

On Tuesday the school released a statement saying, in part, that the English class that uses the room is analyzing themes of racial tension and injustice in the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird."

It was determined that the poster was created as part of a project in which students analyze themes from the novel such as racial tension, injustice, and poverty. Students are drafting written and visual depictions of these complex themes. A student left the poster they are working on in the classroom, on a desk, at the end of the school day. The poster has not yet been completed or reviewed by the teacher.

One woman who spoke during Thursday night’s public comment period says she’s a former teacher, and there are better ways to discuss that novel.

Some parents in the crowd on Thursday night say this isn't the first race-related incident involving Western Albemarle High School. Parents from Orange and Louisa counties say during previous sporting events against the school, the players have used inappropriate language and racial slurs toward black members of the opposing team.

“The day we're informed we're playing Western Albemarle, we have to mentally prepare ourselves to play them - because they are known for using racist slurs and saying racist comments to us and other school districts,” says Kataria Flowers, an athlete at Orange County High School.

People in attendance Thursday shared the effects that racial discrimination can have on their children. “The feeling of your child coming to you upset and crying because someone has said something to them inappropriate because of the color of their skin, you have no idea what that feels like,” says Sherry Flowers of Orange County.

No one from Fluvanna County High School spoke at Thursday night’s meeting.

Those who spoke say they want the team and teachers involved to be held responsible, they want the girls’ team to forfeit the game, and they want a policy on racism to be added to the handbook.

The school board members are not allowed to respond to any of the public comments. NBC29 reached out to one of the members to comment on charges, but he declined to speak on the topic.