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Charges Dropped

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Charges Dropped Against Black Teacher Who Punched White Student Who Called Him the N-Word

Maywood, CA — Marston Riley, a 64-year old Black teacher who was arrested on charges of child abuse after he punched a student who was yelling racial slurs at him, has had the charges against him dropped a year after the incident.

The incident happened last year when Riley asked a 14-year old white student to leave the classroom at Maywood Academy High School because he was not wearing the proper uniform. The 14-year old student then went to Riley and began yelling racial slurs and calling him the n-word.

In a cellphone video captured by other students, Riley can be seen calm despite the disrespect of the student, who even threw a basketball at him. The student continued taunting him until he decided to punch the student in the face. School staff members had to pull them away.

Riley was initially arrested and charged with child abuse and causing great bodily injury to a child. He was also forced to retire. But many of his colleagues, as well as the students and their parents, came to his defense.

A GoFundMe campaign titled For Mr. Riley (Teachers Deserve Respect) has been set up to donate for his bail and lawyer expenses. Even after he was released, he received outpouring support and raised $191,795.

Most recently, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office decided to drop charges against him citing the circumstances of the incident, the teacher’s age, and that the defendant did not have a criminal record. He also completed a 10-week anger management course.

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Principal Change At Sam Houston H.S.

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By LaNell Taylor

Some may call it déjà vu, but unfortunately the situation is not rumored but rather it is true. The leadership at Sam Houston High School is changing once again.  Last, week an article was published in a local newspaper and much chatter took place via social media that Dr. Mateen Diop, Principal at Sam Houston High School would no longer serve as the school’s principal at the start of the 2020 – 2021 school year. The announcement came as a surprise to some while others applauded the SAISD board’s decision.  It is believed that the decision was solidified following the class valedictorian’s graduation speech that vilified the school, Dr. Diop and his administrative team.

Not much has been shared from either party (SAISD nor Dr. Diop); however, SAISD Board of Trustee Alicia Perry did offer the following statement:

We will have a change in leadership at Sam Houston High School next school year. These changes are always made with students in mind and their best interests at heart. We value the community and will ensure that stakeholder input is considered as we search for a new leader. We will strive hard to ensure that the campus moves in a positive direction. We take the concerns of our students seriously and we want to ensure that they have a successful learning environment. District Administration will review the concerns in an effort to ensure that they are addressed appropriately.” 

As an alumna of Sam Houston High School in the San Antonio Independent School District, a former teacher of the school, a parent of a Sam Houston athlete, a tax payer in the District, I personally know that the stability of leadership at Sam Houston H.S. has been on shaky ground for at least almost two decades now.  When I taught there from 2001-2006 we had 5 principals (Donald McClure, Joanne Cockrell, John Simpson, Joanne Cockrell again, and Melanie Iglehart – Hammonds) in the five years that I was there and unfortunately that cycle of the forever changing leadership hasn’t changed much since then; therefore, making it a very systemic problem and not good for kids.

Again, not many details have been released as to why this current principal change has occurred, but for many outsiders looking in, we are in an awaken state of looking at the systematic failures of organizations and institutions that have failed Blacks (particularly Black men).  I just believe folks need to make sure history isn’t repeating itself.  In speaking to other individuals, a former principal, mentor, and friends of mine, it was expressed that if I were to dig deeper I would probably uncover evidence of suppression of Black men in SAISD. Immediately in my mind I reflected back to the likes of Mr. Donald McClure; Mr. Everett Fuller; Mr. Charles James; Mr. Lewis Barr; Mr. John Simpson; Mr. Derrick Cade; Mr. Darnell White; Mr. Stanton Lawrence; and Dr. Mateen Diop and wondered what adversities they may have faced within the system.

To all who have walked in the shoes of educators they know “Teaching Ain’t Easy” and sometimes it is not for everyone. Again, I am not defending nor agreeing with anyone on the matter; however, I know that “Great Leaders” are important, but no one leader should EVER stop a show. If ALL parties (parents, students, community, principals, administrators, board members, stakeholders, etc.) TAKE RESPONSIBILITY and are doing their part within an institution, despite the efforts of whomever the principal is, SUCCESS WILL PREVAIL! I’m part of that proof. As I mentioned earlier, I taught at Sam Houston H.S. when we had 5 principals in five years; however, as a campus we were still able to perform and on some occasions even outperform other schools in and out of the District to include areas of academics, athletics, graduating children., etc.

People should also consider that in most school systems today, most principals don’t run campuses like the days of old. Administrators, Vice Principals, Assistant Principals, Academic Deans, Counselors, etc. are the day to day faces we encounter because principals are like CEOs, they are often required to attend meetings and trainings at the District office, on and off campus, in the community, out of the city and state, perform classroom and campus walkthoughs, manage construction, manage budgets, and lets not forget those infamous “other duties as assigned.” I say all that to say that it should not be a surprise that at many campuses individuals are confused as to who is running the campus.

In closing, I’d like to note that when I worked at other schools in SAISD principal turnovers were just as frequent then as they are today, and I never understood how that was good for kids. Much can be said about schools that have or had consistency in leadership.  Shouts out to Mr. Charles Muñoz former Principal at Edison H.S. who served for two decades or more; Ms. Raquel Sosa, former Principal, Highland Hills Elementary in the 80s, and two of my current favorite principals Mrs. Natasha Pinnix of M.L. King Academy and Dr. Derrick Thomas of St. Philip’s Early College High School. Much can be said for their leadership and track records.

I challenge all to look at ALL the data in order to make best decisions.  And please let the good outweigh the bad.

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Charles Butt donates $1 million to PVAMU; Funds to support Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice

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PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (June 11, 2020) – Charles Butt, H-E-B Chairman, announced today a $1,000,000 personal contribution to Prairie View A&M University in honor of University President Ruth J. Simmons.

President Simmons joined Prairie View in 2017 after retiring as President of Brown University where she served as President from 2001 to 2012.  She had previously served as President of Smith College from 1995 to 2001. Born in Grapeland, Texas, she grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward where she graduated from Phyllis Wheatley High School.  She holds both a Master of Arts and Ph.D. degree in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University.  Simmons chairs the Board of Directors of the Holdsworth Center for Excellence in Education Leadership.

“When I learned of Mr. Butt’s gift, I was overwhelmed,” said President Simmons. “His generosity to the children of the State of Texas and his concern for the quality of education afforded Prairie View students is inspiring to us all.  Our students can learn a good deal from his humanity and the manner in which he lives and practices his values.”

The funds will be used to support The Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice at the University.  This Center will be proposed for approval to the Texas A&M Chancellor and Board of Regents and the Coordinating Board with the following proposed mission:

The Center positions itself as a multidisciplinary effort, drawing from an array of existing programs that can, together, facilitate greater understanding of racism and discrimination on the one hand and the need for justice on the other hand to strengthen and sustain civil society.  The center’s activities will include:

  • encouraging curricular innovation that helps students better understand how racial and other biases can impact their beliefs, affect their choices and shape their opportunities in life;
  • educational programs for the public on how to combat bias in their communities;
  • expert support for government and organizations seeking to understand how they can improve upon their efforts to assure a bias-free, inclusive environment;
  • training for individuals in leadership positions who wish to improve upon their leadership for inclusion; and
  • support for scholarship and research that adds to knowledge about new areas of injustice that are in need of urgent attention from policymakers and others (such as human trafficking).PVAMU President Ruth J. Simmons

Prairie View A&M University is a state-assisted, public, comprehensive land grant institution of higher education. It is dedicated to achieving excellence and relevance in teaching, research, and service and seeks to invest in programs and services that address issues and challenges affecting the diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population of Texas and the larger society, including the global arena.

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Scholarships for Black Students

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10 Black Scholarship Programs in 2020 That Are Still Open Despite COVID-19

Every year, there are many programs that give away scholarships to thousands of African American and other minority students. In 2020, though, many of these programs have been cancelled and/or postponed because of the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. However, we were able to find at least 10 Black scholarship programs that are still open. Here they are:

#1 – Jack and Jill of America Foundation Need-Based Scholarships: Offered to high school seniors who will attend and maintain a full-time status at an accredited, four-year post-secondary institution, starting in the fall of the year and working toward a bachelor’s degree. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/jack-and-jill-of-america-foundation-providing-need-based-scholarships.html

#2 – Walmart Foundation First Generation Scholarship For HBCU Students: Offered through Walmart’s foundation, the program specifically helps students who are enrolled at any HBCU or PBI (Primarily Black Institution) across the country. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/walmart-foundation-first-generation-scholarship-hbcu-students.html

#3 – Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund: Founded by Jay-Z and his philanthropist mother, Gloria, this program helps low income students advance their education by giving them the resources they need to enroll in college, pay the tuition, and successfully finish college on time. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/jay-z-shawn-carter-scholarship-fund.html

#4 – Jesse Jackson’s PUSH Excel Scholarship Program: This program encourages servant leadership potential in scholars, and pushes students to develop a passion for social justice and social change. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/jessie-jackson-push-excel-scholarship-program-three-awards.html

#5 – McDonald’s Black and Positively Golden Scholarships: This partnership between McDonald’s and the Thurgood Marshall Fund gives scholarship awards to deserving students that are attending HBCUs and PBIs across the United States. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/03/tmcf-mcdonalds-black-positively-golden-scholarship-program.html

#6 – Apple’s HBCU Scholarship Program: Program for exceptional students currently attending an HBCU with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants must be working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or a Ph.D. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/09/apple-40-million-hbcu-scholarship-program-summer-internship.html

#7 – Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship: A program for graduating high school seniors who can demonstrate their ability to lead and serve their communities. Students are also expected to be able to demonstrate a level of commitment to making a significant impact at their school and society in general. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2018/10/20k-scholarships-from-coca-cola-program-foundation.html

#8 – Gucci Changemakers Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Program: A global program that promotes unity, diversity and inclusion through it’s Gucci Changemakers program. The program offers more than $1 million in scholarships that will be allocated to financing the education of at least 70 fashion students. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2019/04/gucci-changemakers-diversity-inclusion-scholarship.html

#9 – Foot Locker/ United Negro College Fund Scholarship Program: A partnership between the Foot Locker Foundation, Inc. and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to fund a scholarship program for students attending a UNCF member college or university during the fall of the current year. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2020/05/foot-locker-united-negro-college-fund-scholarship-program.html

#10 – Davis Scholarship For Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math): Willma H. Davis has partnered with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to establish a scholarship to encourage minority female students to pursue a future career in the STEM fields. Candidates must be classified as sophomore, junior, or senior in the Fall and attend a UNCF-member institution. Learn more at https://www.blackscholarships.org/2020/05/willma-h-davis-scholarship-for-women-in-stem.html

For more 2020-2021 scholarships, visit BlackScholarships.org

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