Charlottesville High School reopens after a week of closure

Charlottesville High School (CHS) welcomed back its students and staff on Monday, Nov. 27, after being closed for a week due to an unusual number of staff absences and a series of violent incidents. The school district announced several measures to ensure a safe and positive learning environment for the school community.

CHS abruptly canceled classes on Friday, Nov. 17, citing staffing issues. The district did not provide any further explanation, but it was later revealed that 27 teachers coordinated a “sick out day” to protest the working conditions at the school. The move came after CHS Principal Rashaad Pitt announced his resignation earlier this month, and there were several fights at the school. On Thursday, Nov. 16, police responded to two back-to-back “physical disorder” calls, one of which involved “an adult who was not to be in the school.”

Charlottesville High School reopens after a week of closure
Charlottesville High School reopens after a week of closure

The district initially planned to reopen the school on Monday, Nov. 20, with added police patrols, but after a closed school board meeting on Saturday, Nov. 18, the district decided to extend the closure until Monday, Nov. 27. The district said the closure would allow administrators and staff to “continue planning for a ‘reset’ of school policies, procedures, and culture.”

CHS reopening with new interim principal and support staff

The district announced that Kenneth Leatherwood, a former CHS principal, would serve as the interim principal starting Nov. 27. Leatherwood has worked as a coach, teacher, and administrator in the district from 1981 until he retired in 2012. The district said Leatherwood was “a man whose deep relationships in our community and long experience in our schools make him uniquely qualified to help us move forward.”

The district also hired additional support staff, including counselors, social workers, and security officers, to assist the school. The district said it would conduct a search for a permanent principal, and expected to screen candidates and begin interviews in late winter.

CHS students and parents express mixed feelings about reopening

Some CHS students and parents expressed relief and optimism about the reopening of the school, while others expressed anxiety and frustration. Some students said they were happy to see their friends and teachers again, and hoped that the school would be safer and more supportive. Some parents said they trusted the district’s decision and appreciated the efforts to improve the school climate.

However, some students said they were still scared and angry about the violence and the closure, and felt that the district did not address the root causes of the problems. Some parents said they were worried about their children’s safety and academic progress, and felt that the district did not communicate well with them.

The district said it would continue to work with the school community to restore trust and confidence, and to provide a high-quality education for all students.

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