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VCS Holds Two-Day School Resource Officer Training

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

-Press Release, Vance County Schools

Vance County Schools coordinated a training, led by the National Association for School Resource Officers (NASRO), on January 14-15. Mac Hardy, the NASRO Director of Operations, led the two-day training, which was attended by all Vance County School Resource Officers, representatives from the Vance County Sheriff’s Office, County Government officials and school-based and district administration.

Our work with the NC Center for Safer Schools will involve that our current Memorandum of Understanding is aligned with the best practices from our NASRO training. Our goal is to ensure that, as a district, we are maintaining the highest standards for school-based policing.

At the culmination of the training, Vance County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Anthony Jackson, presented Sheriff Curtis Brame, our school resource officers and Captain Lloyd Watkins a VanceFormation pin. VanceFormation is the district recognition program, recognizing those who are paving the way by rethinking, reforming, reimagining and renewing. Our School Resource Officers are the first recipients to receive the recognition that are not employed by the district.

We are proud to have a team of SROs willing to work to ensure safety is our top priority. We are committed to educating our students in an environment that is welcoming and safe.

Pictures courtesy Vance County Schools:

Friday Institute Showcases Partnership With Vance Co. Schools

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-Information courtesy Vance County Schools

Vance County Schools’ partnership with NC State and The Friday Institute continues to be valuable to both students and staff. We are excited about the opportunities we are afforded through this partnership and extending our lessons through virtual reality. The Friday Institute showcased their partnership with VCS in the article below:

https://www.fi.ncsu.edu/news/friday-institute-partners-with-vance-county-schools-to-bring-immersive-virtual-reality-technology-into-science-classrooms/

We hope that you find this information and related article useful in sharing the great things happening in Vance County Schools.

VCS Announces Innovative School Application Dates/Deadlines

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-Information courtesy Vance County Schools

Vance County Schools announces important dates and deadlines for its innovative school options for the upcoming 2020-21 academic school year.

Applications for innovative schools, including EM Rollins STEAM Academy, STEM Early High School, AdVance Academy and Vance County Early College High School, will be available on the VCS website, VCS District Office and at each school beginning February 3, 2020.

Applications are due to the VCS District Office, located at 1724 Graham Avenue in Henderson, by February 28.

An Innovative School Night will be held at the District Office on February 11 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. Parents and prospective students can ask questions and learn more about the programs during this session.

On March 14, STEM Early High School and Vance County Early College High School applicants will be mailed their application status. Final decisions for the remaining schools will be mailed on March 30.

DA’s Office Not Pursuing Charges in Second VCMS Assault Allegation

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Statement from the Office of District Attorney Mike Waters:

On December 16, 2019, I learned a parent had made more allegations about the use of inappropriate force against school resource officer, Deputy Warren Durham and Assistant Principal Kevin Ross. These allegations were first detailed in a short statement written by the female juvenile student and provided by the minor child’s mother to the Vance County Sheriff’s Office late in the day on Friday, December 13, 2019, after a video of Warren Durham became widespread through social media and news outlets.

At the request of Vance County Sheriff Curtis Brame and the mother of the minor child, I undertook a review of the evidence provided in this case including the minor child’s initial statement, the statement taken by Vance County Sheriff’s Office investigators, medical records, and video footage provided by the Vance County School System.  Additionally, with the assistance of Ellington Digital Forensics, I was able to more closely examine the video of the incident. After reviewing the evidence available, and carefully examining the relevant law, I have determined that no charges will be filed against former School Resource Officer Warren Durham or Assistant Principal Kevin Ross related to this incident.

In summary, the investigation revealed that on December 11, 2019, shortly after 11 a.m., a female, sixth-grade student was changing classes, and during that time accessed her backpack to retrieve a cell phone in violation of school policy. The student was in the vicinity of the School Resource Officer Warren Durham who appeared to tell her something as he walked by.  Within a few seconds, the student is approached by Vance County Middle School Assistant Principal Kevin Ross and he extends his hand to retrieve the cell phone. The student initially pulls the phone away but then hands the phone over.  At that point, a verbal exchange between the student and the assistant principal begins and the student appears to try and push past Assistant Principal Kevin Ross. The School Resource officer steps over to the vicinity of the exchange and begins directing students around them. The student reported to Vance County Sheriff’s Office investigators at this time she intended to leave the school, but it is unclear as to whether she told Assistant Principal Kevin Ross her intentions. It appears from the video that Assistant Principal Kevin Ross directs her to retrieve her belongings and the student reported that he told her to go upstairs to his office. At this point, Assistant Principal Kevin Ross physically redirects her to retrieve her belongings, and, at that point, she complies.

Assistant Principal Kevin Ross was acting in his official capacity and thus his actions are governed by NCGS 115C-390.3, which states school personnel may use reasonable force to force or control behavior for the purpose of 1) correcting students or 6) to maintain order on educational property. This use of force must be reasonable and cannot be excessive as to cause any serious or permanent injury to the student.  After review of the video and this juvenile’s medical records, it cannot be determined that she suffered any serious injury. Further, several hours of video were made available to this office and a review of the same tend to show that the sixth-grade student did not exhibit any signs of discomfort or injury in the hours following the incident.

Initial claims made by the juvenile that School Resource Officer Warren Durham pushed the student or pulled her hair are not supported by the video, as it appears that at no time was there ever any physical contact between the student and the school resource officer.

For these reasons, I met with the family and their legal counsel today and shared my decision not to pursue criminal charges in this matter.

Vance County Schools has issued the following statement:

Vance County Schools received the statement from District Attorney Mike Waters this afternoon.  At this time, we plan to meet with our attorney and Kevin Ross to bring closure to the personnel portion of this matter, as outlined in our school board policy.

As we committed to our community when this event occurred, to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again, district officials coordinated a training, led by the National Association for School Resource Officers, on January 14-15.  The two-day training was attended by all Vance County School Resource Officers, representatives from the Sheriff’s Office, County Government officials and school-based and district administration. Our work with the NC Center for Safer Schools will involve that our current MOU (memorandum of understanding) is aligned with the best practices included in our training. Our goal is to ensure that, as a district, we are maintaining the highest standards for school–based policing.

As always, safety is our top priority and we are committed to educating our students in an environment that is welcoming and safe.

VCS Board of Education Honors Students, Athletes & Staff at Jan. Meeting

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-Information and photo courtesy the VCS Facebook page

The Vance County Board of Education recognized many students at its regularly-scheduled January 13, 2020, meeting.

Student-athletes and the Vance County High School tennis coach were honored for receiving all-conference recognitions. Artists with work selected for Arts Alive and the district holiday card were recognized. The Fall 2019 Student Spotlight recipients were presented plaques by The Daily Dispatch.

The Board of Education was also honored for National School Board Appreciation Month.

Student-athletes that were honored included:

Football Big 8 All-Conference selections: Samein Burwell (Offensive Player of the Year) Noah Terry, Phadol Jordan, TaQuan Lyons, Davonte Evans, Daunta Wimbush, Kemarreus Jones and William Hawkins IV. All-Conference Honorable Mention selections: Demarius Harris, Jy’Kavious Judkins, and Malik Williams.

Volleyball Big 8 All-Conference selections: Emani Foster (Conference Player of the Year). All-Conference Honorable Mention selections: Kyra Mitchell and Kynnedy Keel.

Tennis Big 8 All-Conference selections: Angel Durham and All-Conference Honorable Mention selection: Ashley Zuniga. Additionally, the VCS tennis team was selected for the conference’s Sportsmanship Award & Coach Andrews was the Coach of the Year!

Soccer Big 8 All-Conference selections: Jesus Zuniga. All-Conference Honorable Mention selections: Diego Vasquez and Miguel Garcia.

VCS also honored the students who were recognized as Student Spotlights during the fall semester. This recognition is made possible through community sponsorships and initiatives. All schools will have one spotlight student before the end of the 2019-2020 school year.

Spotlight recipients thus far include Miranda Royster, Carver Elementary; Nicholas Harris, AdVance Academy; Josiah Jones, Vance County Early College High School; Kamiyah Wimbush, STEM Early High School; Amiah Hargrove, Dabney Elementary; Samiya Reid, EM Rollins Elementary.

VCS is extremely proud of all that the students have accomplished and the staff that help each student reach those goals. VCS is also grateful for a Board of Education that cares for the district and works diligently on the district’s behalf.

We are truly #bettertogether!

For additional photos of recognized students, student-athletes and staff, please click here.

Town Talk 01/13/20: Ed Wilson Talks Vance Co. Board of Education, School Safety

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

Edward “Ed” Wilson, District 4 representative for the Vance County Board of Education and newly named Board Chair, appeared on WIZS Town Talk Monday at 11 a.m.

Wilson, who is running unopposed in the current election for the District 4 school board seat, discussed recent Vance County Schools (VCS) accomplishments and milestones, including the recognition in November of Dr. Anthony Jackson as the 2020 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.

“He’s excellent,” Wilson said of Jackson, who has served with VCS since 2015. “I think the results we see and how good the schools are doing speak for themselves. He brought a refreshing look at the school system. He didn’t make big changes early on; he assessed the situation and then went to work. He’s a blessing; we are very fortunate to have Dr. Jackson.”

Stating that Jackson emphasizes appropriate training for all those working with the school system – especially on new initiatives – Wilson reported that VCS is proud to say it was the first in NC to complete the second of two state-offered, week-long school board training sessions in 2019.

For their commitment, the Board received The Gold Bell Award, an honor that recognizes training excellence and commitment during the 2018-2019 North Carolina School Board Association’s Academy Year.

In other VCS news, Wilson discussed the Board’s recent decision to name him Chair, and District 5 representative Linda Cobb Vice Chair, for the 2020 year. Both were voted in unanimously by the Board.

Cobb faces challenger Clementine Hunter for the District 5 seat in the upcoming March 3 Primary. Hunter previously resigned from the District 5 position and Cobb was appointed to the Board.

For the 2020 election, Cobb is running as incumbent and Hunter filed to re-enter the race as the challenger.

The only other school board position that faces opposition is the District 3 seat, where incumbent Dorothy Gooche is running against challenger Sean A. Alston, Sr.

To hear the interview with Wilson in its entirety, including general discussion about school safety and the role of school resource officers, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.

VCS to Hold District-Wide Parent & Family Night at LB Yancey

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-Information courtesy Vance County Schools

Save the Date! Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Vance County Schools will host District-Wide Parent and Family Night at LB Yancey Elementary School from 5:30 – 7 p.m. There will be snacks for all and childcare for those under 12.

Students will be performing, and two sessions will be offered. VCS is very excited about the sessions and hopes to see you there.

LB Yancey is located at 311 Hawkins Drive in Henderson.

Advance Academy Graduates 20 in Mid-Year Ceremony

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

-Press Release and photos, Vance County Schools

Advance Academy held its mid-year graduation on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, at the former Henderson Middle School Auditorium.

North Carolina Senator Erica Smith shared an inspiring message with the graduates – your future is calling! Dr. LaDonna Cooper led the Presentation of Roses, where each graduate honors someone who helped them on their journey towards their diploma.

With 20 students graduating, Principal Stephanie Ayscue proudly presented each with their diploma. The Air Force ROTC from Vance County High School assisted with the ceremony.

Vance County Schools is proud to have been part of their journey and all that each has accomplished.

For more pictures from the ceremony, please visit the Vance County Schools’ Facebook page

Vance Co. Middle School Assistant Principal Suspended in Second Assault Investigation

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Statement from Vance County Schools:

We, along with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office, have reviewed the footage from the second incident reported to us. District officials have met with the family and offered academic support, resources, counseling and other educational setting options to the student.

Vance County Schools did suspend the assistant principal in question, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The personnel directory information is as follows:

Employee Name: Kevin Ross

Age: 48 yrs

Date of Employment: January 11, 2018

– Mr. Ross has served as an assistant principal on the secondary level since being hired.

– Currently, he is an assistant principal at Vance County Middle School.

– He is on a standard administrative contract.

– Annual Salary $71,400.

– He is currently suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

We want to give assurance to everyone in our community that we are following all local and state policies and reviewing procedures and processes. The safety and welfare of our students is always a top priority in Vance County Schools.

Vance Co. Board of Education Urging the State to Take Action

THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY

-Information courtesy Vance County Schools

At its December 9 meeting, the Vance County Board of Education approved a resolution urging the State to take action to remit civil penalties unconstitutionally withheld from North Carolina public schools.

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that under Article IX, Section 7 of the NC Constitution, public schools are entitled to the clear proceeds of specific civil penalties collected by various state agencies.

The Vance County Board of Education respectfully requests the General Assembly to approve during its January 2020 session a multi-year plan to pay the remaining $729.7 million judgment for civil penalties that should have gone to public school units for school technology but were instead diverted to other purposes in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.

According to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), in 2018-2019 only 38% of North Carolina’s 115 local school districts reported having achieved the State’s 4-year replacement goal for student devices.

More than 30% of school districts in 2018-19 reported having no resources budgeted for replacement devices.