Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board members spoke about the potential impact of pending education legislation during a town hall Wednesday night.
The event was hosted by the Forsyth County Association of Educators. Attendees asked Board of Education members and county commissioners questions on a variety of topics like funding, school renovations, mental health, and pending legislation.
Just hours before the town hall, the North Carolina House passed an education bill that would limit classroom discussions of racism and sexism.
HB 187 is now in the Senate. Board members were asked how they would protect students if it’s made law. Vice Chair Alexandre Bohannon responded.
“We have conversations about what we're doing in the district all the time to create more inclusive, culturally relevant learning environments for all children where they can be affirmed on the basis of whatever identity they have,” Bohannon said. “Particularly, if they come from an identity that is underrepresented. And so we will continue to do that.”
Members were also asked about House Bill 188, which would allow the use of long-term suspension and expulsion for minor offenses like disrespectful language and dress code violations.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools adopted a new code of conduct last year to try to reduce those exclusionary practices.
When asked about how the bill would impact that code, Board Member Sabrina Coone said it would “uproot” the district’s efforts.
“We can't go back to punitive consequences for things that are minuscule. Do our students need to respect our educators? Yes, they do,” she said. “I expect my children to respect me, but I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? It would really just undo, unfortunately, I think, everything that we're working so hard to do in our district.”
HB 188 has not yet passed in the House.
Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.