On April 4, The Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together (CLOUT) rallied before and then attended the JCPS Board meeting that evening in an attempt to appeal to the board about what they believe to be a disciplinary system making district schools unsafe and creating systemic racial bias.
Upon several denied requests for meetings with Superintendent Dr. Hargens and the board, the CLOUT leaders decided to move for action at the school board meeting.
Approximately 200 members of CLOUT, JCPS students, parents, teachers, religious leaders, and supporting citizens attended a prayer vigil and rally before the meeting. The crowd entered the building singing songs in unison until they were called to order at the start of the meeting.
The representatives of CLOUT chosen to speak at the end of the board meeting were denied their opportunity to as the members of the board left while an estimated crowd of 200 expressed their disapproval.
Dr. Chris Kolb, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Spalding University and CLOUT spokesperson, said, “The Superintendent and the board walked away from 200 parents as we called out ‘Shame!’ Our kids deserve the best and they refuse to give us what will keep our kids safe.”
While Board Member David Jones did attempt to address the crowd, there was a negative response. “David Jones addressed us briefly but the parents felt insulted by what he said so we interrupted to let him know and he left,” said Kolb.
According to the Equity Scorecard provided by the district Monday, African-American students make up 60% of all JCPS suspensions while only accounting for 37% of the student population. In addition, for middle school aged students, 43% of African-American students were suspended at least once as opposed to the 14% of White students.
The racial disciplinary gap is one of CLOUT’s problems with the current JCPS code of conduct as well as alternative measures for punishment in light of the recent JCPS study showing that many of the district’s Zero Tolerance policies encourage misbehavior instead of combating it.
CLOUT has worked to better the community and the school system through a number of ways and has collaborated with the board on numerous occasions. Of these include campaigns to stop bullying and to promote financial fairness in JCPS schools.
The Board also addressed the possible solutions for Myers middle school going forward. A decision is expected to be made in June.