Charlottesville High School closed on Friday and will remain closed until November 27

Charlottesville City Schools closed Charlottesville High School on November 17 due to a shortage of people willing to work after a day where multiple fights broke out across the school. All other schools remained open. 

“Due to an unusual number of staff absences [and] a limited number of substitutes, classes at Charlottesville High School will be canceled today, Friday, November 17,” reads an email sent out in the early morning from Beth Cheuk, the Supervisor of Community Relations. 

Later in the day, Charlottesville City Schools confirmed that the absences were related to a series of recent altercations.

“In some cases, these staff absences were precipitated by two related fights yesterday as well as a number of other fights this school year among a small subset of students,” reads the second email sent out at 2:58 p.m. This was signed by Superintendent Royal Gurley and outgoing School Board Chair James Bryant. 

 “These same students have often been tardy or absent from classes or otherwise disruptive,” the message continued. “While these students have received both supportive and strong disciplinary actions, the situation remains.”

The email states that the situation has been compounded by the resignation of CHS Principal Rashaad Pitt which was announced on November 9. The email states a new principal will be announced on Monday. The email suggests other corrective actions:

  • “Crafting plans for community conversations with area leaders to address community issues that impact our schools.”
  • “Elevating the voices and perspectives of the overwhelming number of CHS students who are making good choices each day.”
  • “Clarifying our expectations and procedures for student and family behavior.”
  • “Disciplining all students according to the state’s guidelines, to include suspension and expulsion.”
  • “Connecting students with the social and emotional support they need.”
  • “Building a network of alternative community and school programming available to those students for whom CHS is not fully meeting their needs.”

The email sent out on Friday stated that CHS would reopen on Monday, but one sent out on Saturday stated the high school will be closed until after the Thanksgiving break.

In response to messages from alumni and parents who want to help, city schools are also seeking people who want to become substitute teachers.

More information from the email sent out Friday afternoon

The incidents have become an issue for conservative talk show host and Republican consultant Rob Schilling who has posted footage of four incidents on his blog, including yesterday’s events.  

In September, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported the school system cracked down on the use of cell phones after two previous brawls were filmed and distributed online. School officials said that was part of a larger policy to improve education by eliminating distractions. 

In early January, the Charlottesville School Board will welcome four new members who were recently elected to four-year terms.  Four incumbents oo

“Please take some extra time to love on your kids today and reflect on what you are doing to be a part of the solution,” wrote Amanda Burns on her Facebook on Friday. Burns will enter office in January alongside Chris Meyer, Shymora Cooper, and Nicole Richardson. 

Burns posted throughout the day offering resources for students with nowhere else to go, such as Parks and Recreation’s open gym hours at Carver Recreation. The group Charlottesville Area Harm Reduction provided free meals at several sites across the city. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the November 17, 2023 edition.

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