HCBOE votes punishment over termination in Ashford teacher text scandal; decision faces criticism

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Houston County Board of Education voted to suspend the teachers involved in the Ashford teacher text scandal for ten days without pay.

“We had to make some movement here,” board member Vince Wade said during the meeting. “Is it right? It is wrong? Nobody’s going to be able to answer that question I’m afraid.”

Superintendent David Sewell told WDHN his recommendation came after consulting several state education attorneys.

“None of them ever mentioned termination,” Sewell said.

In addition to the 10-day suspension, the board spoke about implementing teacher diversity training. According to Sewell, the training would feature a diverse group of people.

“It would be many people from different races and different cultures,” Sewell said.

Regardless, once the vote was made, several parents, students, and advocates vowed the situation is far from over.

“See, it was local but now everybody knows how Ashford teachers, some of them, are because the world is watching what you’re doing right now,” Mothers of Black Boys representative Dechauna Tensley said.

“This is the beginning of a fight for equality, for dignity, for respect, for community and we want everybody to know we’re not going to stop at this,” Co-Executive Director of the Ordinary People Society Rodreshia Russaw said.

Advocacy grassroots and national organizations such as the NAACP have been quiet up to this point as they waited for the board’s decision. Now, many have started working to decide their next moves.

“We’re going to stand up for children,” NAACP representative Franklin Jones said. “Always have and always will. You want to fight the black community? Mess with the children. That is what has happened now.”

Several advocacy group members met after the board meeting. WDHN will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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