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Wake County Public Schools leaders respond to ‘racist, vile, and thoughtless statements’ made by staff and students

The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) superintendent and the chair of its board of education released a joint statement today in response to social media posts they said were made by students and staff.

“As you may be aware, a few WCPSS students and staff members aggravated and trivialized the emotions felt by many across the nation, particularly members of the African American community, by making racist, vile, and thoughtless statements on social media,” wrote Superintendent Cathy Moore and Board Chair Keith Sutton.

One tweet captured a comment made by a person on Facebook who identified themselves as a staff member at Wake County Public Schools. In the comment, the person responds to what appears to be a post about the protests in Raleigh and around North Carolina over the weekend.

The person wrote: “Have the fire department turn on the water. Watch them run.”

The protests come in response to the treatment of black people by police around the country. In particular, it was sparked by the murder of a black man, George Floyd, by police office Derek Michael Chauvin on May 25 in Minneapolis. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, and Floyd died as a result.

“These are difficult times. Yet, we remain dedicated to this belief. The senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and most recently, George Floyd have given rise to some of the country’s deepest forms of anguish, fear, sadness and outrage,” Moore and Sutton wrote.

In response to the social media comments by students and staff, Moore and Sutton wrote that “the racist actions of a few do not define our school system.”

They went on:

“However, we cannot be silent in the face of racism in our community or beyond. Our Core Beliefs compel us to see, to understand and to interrupt racism in all its forms.

“These Core Beliefs challenge educators and families and require us to have a positive influence on the community beyond education. Through our collective work, perhaps we can create a way forward in dismantling racism and other negative influences that affect our school community and nation.

“We encourage each of you to use this moment in history to strengthen your commitment to achieving racial equity.  This means working to address the injustices that exist beyond education by the conversations we have with others, by speaking up when we see hate, by supporting efforts that oppose racism and oppression, and by directly engaging in advocacy work. 

“Hold this compelling work closely to your heart. If children master academics but fail to appreciate the value of inclusivity, respect, and diversity, we as adults have fallen short of preparing them for tomorrow.” 

Read the entire statement here.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.