Racial Summit planned for Montgomery County Public Schools

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) People in Montgomery County will be coming together this weekend to discuss racial disparities in the public school system, specifically African American students.

There will be students, parents, the advocacy group that is hosting it, and every school principal along with other administrators.

It's all to make sure there's no racism in the school system and that African American students get the same education as everyone else.

The Dialogue on Race Summer Summit happens every year and 2017 is focusing on education.

The meeting will focus on academic achievement, discipline referrals, graduation rates, and hiring of African American employees in Montgomery County schools.

Martha Ann Stallings is the Chair of the Dialogue on Race Education Issue Group.

She explained, "These were the things that a number of years ago, they looked at and they saw that there was a disparity between the African American community students' data and then the other students."

The school system will present it's current data at the meeting, showing real improvement.

Superintendent Mark Miear said, "In comparison to state date, we're much better in terms of achievement gaps and suspension rates than the state and other state schools in Virginia."

Stallings responded, "Some of their strategies that they put in place have been successful, but we also know that we always need to think about how best to serve all kids and are there some things that we're not doing, are there some things as parents and community members that we can do to also improve the education of all the kids."

Miear agreed, and said Saturday will be his third meeting with the group, and he's already learned from past experiences, like getting students more involved.

"Our students made a video to recruit teachers that are minorities to come to Montgomery County and our students let the candidates know why it was important for minorities to be here," he said.

10% of new hires this year were minorities, trying to match the demographics of students.

This year, 4.8% of students are African American in Montgomery County.

Stallings said of the low ration, "It could be two students in a classroom, it could be one, it could be five, the bottom line is it's important that each child be taught an appropriate way."

The Dialogue on Race Summit will be held on Saturday at 5:00 pm at Nellie's Cave Park as a pot-luck style dinner.

It's completely open to the public. In fact, it's important to the group that students and parents show up to give their personal experiences being in the school system.