About 100 students from George Washington Carver High School in South Memphis took to the streets around the school before class Monday morning and held an informal protest.
The students are reportedly upset over their new principal's policies, FOX13 has learned.
Students say the brief protest was over changes in class schedules, no air conditioning in the high school, disciplinary actions, and recently fired teachers since the start of the school year.
"I saw about 200 kids in a very unified front; organized and they were sincere," said LaDell Beamon, CEO of Heal The Hood Foundation of Memphis. "I talked to police and they said as long as it was peaceful there was nothing they could do as long as it was a peaceful demonstration. My role was to make sure they were peaceful. Nobody was fighting and they were intelligently voicing their concerns."
The students who protested said they just wanted to be heard. The main issue the students demonstrated before 7:30 a.m. was over a loss of a $100,000 state school improvement grant that provides for elective classes like band and choir.
"They're taking away the teachers that care, teachers that told students they can make a difference," said Kenmario Davis, student.
"We've been writing letters to the board, e-mailing a lot of people but they've been trying to keep hush and quiet about it," said Deneishia Williams, student.
Though the students claimed that teachers had been released and there is no air conditioning at the school, a Memphis City Schools official refuted those claims that no teachers have been fired. The school district did say three well-liked teachers are no longer at Carver. The loss of the grant forced the reassignments of two teachers, and a third left the school due to a drop in student enrollment.
There had been a problem with one of the school's A/C units and that problem has been fixed, the district official told FOX13.
Beamon, in talking with Carver High principal Monifa Johnson, said the students were threatened with 180 days of suspension if they did not disorganize and get inside the school for class.
A high school administrator denied the threat of 180-day suspensions.
After the students disbanded their protest, they went inside the school's auditorium to discuss the allegations, a district official told FOX13.
It is unclear what ages and grades the students are who participated in this informal protest.
MCS Southwest Regional Superintendent Willie Rhodes visited Carver High School shortly after the protest and is now working on a plan of action.
"That's one of the issues we are going to look into," Rhodes said. "How did we get to this point because we have lines of communication to deal with concerns."
High school and district administrators tell FOX13 they have agreed to meet with Carver's student government association at a future date and time.
"I'm delighted the students exercised their First Amendment rights," Rhodes said.
Carver High School is located at 1591 Pennsylvania.
FOX13 reporter Tealy Devereaux contributed to this report.
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