RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Over two months after the deadly high school graduation in Richmond on June 6, school board members are calling for an outside look into that day.
At the Richmond School Board meeting on Monday, Aug. 14, a motion was passed to launch a third-party investigation into the shooting at the Huguenot High School graduation earlier this summer, and what led up to that day.
The motion was introduced by board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed after the board received a preliminary report about the shooting weeks ago.
“Asking for third party investigation does not question what we do, it questions how we do it within the realm of our organization operations,” Harris-Muhammed said.
The preliminary report quickly became a hot topic among board members. It left some, like Mariah White, with more questions than answers.
“There is no means that I wanted to go to our graduation and risk my life. And I was there and I know you did not want to risk yours, but I would like an investigation at the school level. And you can do that as the superintendent.”
Monday’s meeting took a heated turn as an amendment was suggested for Jason Kamras, the Richmond Public Schools superintendent, to be held accountable if a full investigation was not done.
“I think upon not receiving this investigation, Mr. Kamras should be suspended from his duties if we do not receive this investigation,” White said. “This is crucial. I want transparency to all parents, teachers.”
Kamras responded to White’s suggestion by emphasizing the information that the board had already been given.
“You were given a report. If there are items that you would like additional information on, I am happy to provide them to the extent I can. But I will not abide a public claim that you are not provided with an investigation report because it’s simply not true,” Kamras said.
The amendment was ultimately not added to the motion because Harris-Muhammed said she did not want this plan to involve personnel.
Meanwhile, board member Elizabeth Doerr was against a third party investigation altogether and said that the preliminary report was adequate.
“I’m satisfied with their preliminary report and provided by the administration and I support making sure that every voice on this board gets heard and I appreciate Mr. Kamras’s commitment to making sure that all questions are continued to be answered”
As part of the motion, Kamras will have to present options for companies that could complete the investigation to the board. He must do this by Oct. 1, 2023.
The investigation will bring in a third-party team to look into the graduation day as a whole, including written reports by Richmond Schools staff that were there. The investigation will also include a review of the Homebound program, a virtual option for students through the Richmond Virtual Academy.
One victim of the shooting, 18-year-old Shawn Jackson, was part of the Homebound program and was allowed to walk at graduation despite potential concerns for his safety.
School board members said overall, they just want another look at the tragedy to see how future tragedies can be prevented.
“At the end of the day, we have a duty to ensure that we’re keeping students and families and the community safe,” school board member Kenya Gibson said. “And we need to ensure that there is no negligence on the part of the district. And I don’t see a way of doing that. Without an a, an investigation of this nature.”
During the meeting, the school board also passed the 15-point Care & Safety Plan that was first introduced in July, which covers topics like student mental health, equipment and personnel in Richmond’s schools.