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Uhurus to protest treatment of black students at John Hopkins Middle School

Saying "the system has declared war on African children," the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement — better known as the Uhurus — will rally Wednesday to call for the resignation of a Pinellas County School Board member in the wake of discipline problems at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg.

"What is happening at John Hopkins is surely a result of the oppression, verbal attacks, lopsided discipline and plain old colonial treatment by a foreign entity that could care less if African children are educated," Chimurenga Waller, the group's president, writes in a letter to the St. Petersburg Times.

The Uhuru statement comes after a series of articles in the Times last week about deteriorating conditions at Hopkins, including the arrest of more than 60 students between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31. The School Board responded last week by directing superintendent Julie Janssen to find ways to more quickly remove small groups of chronically disruptive students from Hopkins and other schools.

The black student population at Hopkins, at 701 16th St. S in St. Petersburg, has risen from 43 percent to 56 percent since the 2007-08 school year, as the district has returned to neighborhood schools after decades of court-ordered integration.

The Uhurus also demanded that board member Carol Cook resign "for her racist 'hoodlum' comment about black students." In fact, it was board chairwoman Janet Clark who used that term during a discussion about Hopkins at last week's board workshop. (Waller emailed a corrected press release at 12:25 p.m., along with an apology to Cook.)

"So much time is taken up with addressing hoodlums, with kids who don't want to be in school," Clark said at the workshop. She also said, "We are talking about a small number of children."

The rally is set for 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in front of the school.

Read more about education and school issues in The Gradebook, blogs.tampabay.com/schools.

Uhurus to protest treatment of black students at John Hopkins Middle School 03/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:14am]
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