Speakers discuss racism, student fees, start times at York County School Board meeting

Jane Hammond
Contact Reporterejhammond@dailypress.com
The public spoke to the York School Board about racism, foreign exchange student fees and school start times.

Speakers used up all 30 minutes available for public comment at the regularly scheduled York School Board meeting Monday night.

The topics of racism in schools, foreign exchange student fees and school start times brought speakers to the podium to address board members.

Three speakers commented about alleged recent acts of racism in York schools. Zettrona Powell, Za'Khari Waddy's mother, said that the bullying her son has endured at Tabb Middle School continues and she has yet to see a resolution. In November, Waddy detailed racist bullying at Tabb Middle School as the subject of a New York Daily News social justice column.

"Please email me. I have not heard a thing," said Vice Chairman Robert George, whose district represents Tabb Middle School. "I realize some of this is evidently news, something happened today, so please keep me in the loop on that. I don't think any of this are aware of ongoing things happening here. Don't assume we're hearing that please."

Eight parents and current foreign exchange students from Germany, Denmark and Poland also made comments to the board about exchange students being charged tuition to attend York schools.

Two students attending Bruton High School said they're currently paying $10,000 to be in the program. Current board policy says students applying from outside the division must pay tuition.

"Virginia is just an awesome place, and we learn so much history, and it would be such a shame not to come because of a school fee," 16-year-old junior Ellen Brogaard from Germany said.

"It's a huge opportunity for American students here to have contact with students from foreign country," said Tabb High School student Jakub Borowy from Poland. "I hope the issue will be taken under consideration."

Several other speakers also commented on the desire to change school start times to better accommodate "tired, stressed" high school students.

Chairman Mark Medford said he appreciated the public's input and feedback on the issues brought forward, but also emphasized that the board members may know more than they may be able to legally discuss.

The board also heard presentations from the York Education Association, a representative from the firm that audited the division's financial and compliance records for fiscal year 2015 and a report about ongoing construction.

Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951.

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