After walkout, school system invites Hillcrest students to small-group meetings

The Tuscaloosa County School System is opening the door so Hillcrest High School students can come speak to system administration after controversy arose last week over a proposed Black History Month program.

On Wednesday, about 300 Hillcrest students walked out of class around 9:30 a.m., protesting what they said was administrators’ longtime inaction on protecting students alongside their belief that they were told to limit the scope of a student-led Black History Month program to events post 1970.

TCSS Superintendent Keri Johnson said she’s not sure where the miscommunication happened, but students will be able to include all eras of Black history.

Johnson said she and other TCSS leaders have plans to meet with Hillcrest students in small groups beginning next week so that, moving forward, students’ voices will be heard and respected.

“We need to find out what is causing that,” Johnson said. “Why do they have those feelings? Our plan is to find that out and we want to meet with our students in small groups and find out what their issues and concerns are. How can we help them? Our goal is for all students to feel connected and valued and loved when they are on our campuses.”

TCSS Director of Student Services Ty Blocker said students should feel comfortable speaking with the people in charge of their education, and this gives them that opportunity.

“It will be an open forum,” Blocker said. “Everything will be on the table so we can give them an opportunity to start with what they feel, why they feel that way, what has happened. What are the facts? I think that conversation will be set by those students.”

The student-run Hillcrest High School Black History Month program is set for Wednesday, Feb. 22, at at 9 a.m.

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