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Weather delays Richmond City School Board discussion of modified safety plan | #schoolsaftey

Richmond City Public Schools logo (8News)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Severe weather forced Richmond City Public School leaders to cancel a highly anticipated board meeting Monday. Local leaders were set to turn their attention, once again, to tackling student safety ahead of the new school year.

Richmond City School Board members were supposed to reconvene Monday, Aug. 7 to talk more about a multi-million dollar, 15-point plan — proposed in July — that aimed to cut down on school violence. At the time of the plan’s initial presentation, some board members called the proposal a “work in progress” and a “start.” They requested further clarification on certain points and a narrower prioritization outline.

Board member Jonathan Young was eager to get the ball rolling on implementing safety measures.

“The school board of the City of Richmond has earned an ‘F’ as it relates to keeping our students safe,” Young said.

The plan, in part, expanded alternative school — and therapeutic — options for some students.

“We have some students in grades as young as a fifth grade who just need additional support,” Young explained.

In addition to putting extra effort into giving young students the foundations they need to succeed, the plan would increase personnel, place more emphasis on mental health, ban cellphone use in class at certain schools and add more high-tech security resources like metal detectors. The latter change represented a point board chair Stephanie Rizzi feared could appear to be over-policing and overly punitive.

“It looks like we’re headed to a dystopian future,” Rizzi said. “I don’t want to believe that’s where we’re headed.”

Board member Dr. Shonda Harris Muhammad was not available for an interview on Monday, but she told 8News that she does not support many revisions to the plan and that she still has concerns that need to be addressed. Like other board members expressed, Dr. Muhammad emphasized the importance of further clarification as to what exactly the plan will address.

On the other hand, ahead of the meeting, Young had already planned to vote in favor of the proposal.

“We have problems right now; it’s time to immediately address them immediately,” Young said. “And shame, shame on the school board if we’re unable to do that.”

Although Monday’s meeting was canceled, at the next meeting, the board will discuss a proposal to hire a third-party to investigate a shooting that made national headlines on June 6 after a Richmond school student and his step-father were killed immediately after Huguenot High School’s graduation. The evaluation would look into if — and to what extent — the school system could be to blame for what happened.

Since this highly anticipated meeting was just cancelled and it is not yet confirmed as to when these topics will next be addressed, stay with 8News for updates.

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