Advocates: Give us action

Supporters of #ActionForAshley protest outside the WS/FCS Board of Education Building on Tuesday, May 22.

Advocates: Give us action
May 24
06:00 2018

Shouts of “Not another brick not another bond” echoed from the corner of Bethania Station Road on Tuesday evening as more than two dozen citizens rallied outside the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Education Building demanding action be taken immediately at Ashley Academy for Cultural & Global Studies. 

The protest eventually moved into the school board meeting.

Here’s what we know: Earlier this year, faculty, staff, and students at Ashley complained that a lingering mold issue inside the school was causing breathing and upper respiratory problems. 
After initial air quality testing was conducted, Mid Atlantic Associates, a Raleigh-based environmental consulting firm, was called in to complete additional testing. 

The results from Mid Atlantic released during the April 24 board meeting identified areas of mold growth and mold samples inside several HVAC units in the school. A week later, board members voted to rely on industrial scrubbers to clean the HVAC units as a short-term solution, electing to wait until the end of the school year to replace the mold-infested units. 

While waiting until the end of the school year may seem like the best solution to the problems at Ashley for some, community advocates and supporters of Action For Ashley think otherwise. Action For Ashley was established as a collective voice for the parents and faculty at Ashley.

Comprised of several organizations, including the NAACP, the Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity and others, Action For Ashley has held several meetings in recent weeks to discuss the issues at the school.

Rev. Alvin Carlisle, president of the local NAACP branch, said, “We are here to demand that Winston-Salem/ Forsyth County School Board appeal to Forsyth County Commissioners for the allocation and or reallocation of funds for a new Ashley School now.”

Although plans for a new school was included in the most recent bond package approved by voters in 2016, construction on a new Ashley isn’t scheduled to begin until 2024. Rev. Carlisle said the NAACP stands with the faculty and staff at Ashley when they call for immediate action. 

“Many organizations, many individuals are standing with the students, parents, and teachers to demand that the school system cease their racist and criminal handling of this very serious issue,” continued Carlisle. “We’re going to continue to push this message. This is an insult to the citizens of Forsyth County and we will not allow another brick to be laid before this school is built.” 

Other speakers during the rally outside the education building included Rev. Dr. John Mendez, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, and Rev. Paul Robeson Ford, senior pastor at First Baptist Church on Highland Avenue.

After leading the large group of protesters in several chants, Rev. Ford said, “Enough is enough.” He said people have been getting sick at Ashley for years and the board has just swept the lingering issues under the rug.
“People have been getting sick at Ashley School for generations and that is not a coincidence because they have not cared about the conditions that our kids are in,” he said. “Enough is enough and it’s time for a new school for Ashley.” 

Following the rally, carrying signs and wearing shirts that read “#ActionForAshley” protesters marched into the auditorium to deliver their message directly to board members. While some protesters waited to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting, others interrupted the meeting with chants. 

Refusing to be silenced, Rev. Mendez and Rev. Ford stood up and demanded answers from board members. After they refused to take their seats and continued to call for “Action at Ashley,” board chairwoman Dana Caudill Jones had Rev. Mendez and Rev. Ford removed from the auditorium by security.

After ordering that the men be removed, Caudill Jones repeatedly said, “We can answer the questions if you sit down.” During the public comment portion of the meeting, more than a dozen people shared their frustrations with the board’s handling of the issues at Ashley. Jones closed the meeting without making any comments.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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