Douglass High School Committee Accepts Offer to Examine the Lasting Effects of Segregation in Loudoun | News

The Douglass High School Memorial Committee, which was appointed by the Loudoun County School Board, said it was willing to study the operation of separate schools and the sale of Douglass School property in the part of efforts to examine the effects of exclusion in Loudoun County, committee co-chair Erica Bush told The Times-Mirror.

The joint supervisory board and school board committee learned in November that it did not have the authority to form a working group for this purpose and instead asked school staff to seek the participation of the memorial committee. .

“We represent the people who have been affected,” said Bush.

“We have connections with the people who have been affected – either we lived it, or the descendants of those affected – so what better group than the people of this group,” she said.

Bush said the committee considered the offer for a month before reaching the decision. She said a subcommittee will be formed and should have a list of recommendations by August.

Supervisor Juli Briskman (D-Algonkian), who presented the initial proposal and received supervisory board support in September, said in November that she hoped to start earlier, but was optimistic for the company nonetheless. .

“Unfortunately, I still have the impression that we are still a bit in limbo within the committee, but I hope that in the future we can make progress in the appointment of an ad hoc group or a task force to study the issue and get the job done, ”Briskman said.

The Supervisory Board included in its instructions to the Joint Committee a request to review the County-Wide League’s sale of the Douglass School property for $ 4,000, which was then forwarded to Loudoun County for $ 1. , at the request of President Phyllis. Randall (D-In general).

The Douglass High School Memorial Committee, which includes graduates and nominees from local history and preservation groups, as well as city and county governments, has been appointed by the county school board de Loudoun with the aim of renovating the school, originally built in 1941.

Supervisor Kristen Umstattd (D-Leesburg), who is the co-chair of the Joint Supervisors Council and School Board Committee, said staff are expected to return for an update in February. Supervisor Sylvia Glass (D-Broad Run) is expected to replace Umstattd as co-chair based on the board vote in January.

As previously reported, Briskman said there is evidence that the supervisory board and school board have in the past prevented black students from receiving the same level of education as white students.

The evidence, she said, includes the Board of Supervisors vote in favor of a proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution to allow the use of public funds for private schools in 1956. Briskman said the motive of the council’s action in 1956 was to reduce the cost of private education for white families trying to avoid integrated public school systems.

Steps were also taken to prevent funding and building improvements for black schools, including Douglass Elementary and Douglass High.

Loudoun County public schools were separated until the late 1960s, more than a decade after the landmark United States Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, which ordered the desegregation of schools nationwide.

Community members, including those from the NAACP branch of Loudoun, supported changing legislative funding processes, raising early awareness of access to prep classes, and redressing wrongdoing following joint council apology. Loudoun County School Board and Supervisory Board for the Past Operation of Separate Schools in September 2019

Bush said that because of laws and policies targeting black people during the Jim Crow era, Douglass High School students and their descendants were playing “catching up” when it came to financial and educational opportunities. She said she hopes one of the subcommittee’s recommendations will be to form a scholarship fund for descendants who have been affected.

“What we want to do is say, ‘hey, as a result of what was done years ago to this community… what can we do together to make amends,” Bush said.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) approved a similar initiative to Briskman’s, known as Executive Order 32, which established the Race Inequality Review Commission in Virginia law. The mission of the commission is to “identify discriminatory laws of a racial nature and the inequitable economic policies which obscure them”.


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