Community petitions to allow appeals for short-term suspensions in Guilford County Schools

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Guilford County school board proposal for short-term suspensions remains a topic of debate weeks before the board votes on a decision.

Several organizations including the North Carolina NAACP, the Greensboro Branch NAACP, the Pulpit Forum of Greensboro Business League and members of the Guilford County community started a petition in full support of the short-term appeal policy. Currently, neither students nor parents have recourse if a student is suspended.

"There is absolutely no reason why a child should not have due process," said Rev. Dr. Cardes Brown, head pastor of New Light Baptist Church and the president of the local NAACP chapter.

Brown says children who are suspended for less than 10 days are most times left without a constructive way to spend their time, other than the short-term suspension program he founded called the New Light at Risk Intergenerational Outreach Program.

The program is housed inside of the New Light Baptist Church in Greensboro. It offers a space for elementary through high school students who have been suspended less than 10 days to engage in an alternative learning environment.

Brown says most of the students suspended within the school system are children of color. He believes there's a racial undertone in another petition that's standing against the proposed policy.

"How do you say in a petition that is opposed to a due process or the right of appeal and say we want to take back our schools. Take them back from who?" said Brown.

FOX8 spoke with one Guilford County school parent who did not want to be identified. The parent shared their child's personal experience and why they are in full support of the appeal process.

"My daughter made a post on social media just basically saying, 'I got in trouble at school today because of you.' Did not mention the other student's name at all," the parent said.

Her daughter ended up with a two-day suspension after the school determined her post caused a disruption in the class. The parent felt as if there was an appellate process, the suspension could have been avoided.

"I feel like if there had been an appeal process, I would have been able to advocate for my child better," said the parent.

The Guilford County Board of Education is scheduled to vote on this policy on Nov. 12.

People can add their signatures to the petition on the iPetitions website. 

Review the Guilford County Schools fact sheet.

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