The Collegian
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Richmond City School Board proposes investigation of the Monroe Park shooting

<p>Photo by Collegian's graphic team.&nbsp;</p>

Photo by Collegian's graphic team. 

The Richmond City School Board motioned to authorize the Sands Anderson Law Firm to administer a third-party investigation of the Monroe Park shooting at its biweekly meeting at River City Middle School on Oct. 2. 

Richmond City School Board representatives and audience members also heard from Charles Willis, the executive director of United Communities Against Crime and homicide victim advocate. He read aloud a moving statement which he received from Tameeka Jackson, the mother of the Monroe Park shooting victim, Shawn Jackson. 

“The school board has been waiting for years to get Mr. Kamras out. It stays in the news but hasn’t been successful,” Jackson said in her message to Willis. 

Jackson accused “a certain Afro-American woman on the board” of using her son’s graduation and death to push Superintendent Jason Kamras out of office. 

“Don’t use my son's death for someone else that you are trying to get out of office. Let my child rest and let us grieve in peace,” Jackson said. 

Willis encouraged the Richmond City School Board to continue investigating. 

Board member Shonda Harris-Muhammed proposed a third-party investigation of the Monroe Park Shooting at the Aug. 7 board meeting, after many questions were left unanswered in Kamras’ report, according to NBC12.  The motion was passed with four representatives voting in favor. 

This incident pertains to the mass shooting that happened outside of a Huguenot High School graduation on June 6 which killed 2 people, one being a RPS student, according to ABC8 News

Rationale was provided for the board’s motion to approve a third-party investigation. According to the board materials, “Asking for a third-party investigation does not question what we do, it questions how we do it within the realm of organization operations.” 

The board materials also state that “The information provided to the school board by the superintendent is questionable. The staff, families, students and our general public must trust that we can keep them safe and their children safe.” 

Kamras proposed two options for the investigation in the board materials:  Sans Anderson Law Firm and Michie Hamlett Attorneys At Law. 

Board member Jason Young moved to authorize investigation administration to Sans Anderson Law Firm. Harris-Muhammed seconded the motion. 

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Community members and school board representatives also discussed the mold, air quality, HVAC, and fire code issues at RPS facilities. 

“At the conclusion of the 2023 fire safety inspections, 39% of RPS schools were not compliant with state fire code, according to the Richmond Chief of Fire,” Beth Almore, a teacher at RPS, said. 

Almore urged the school board to consider adopting fire safety criteria after Fox Elementary School and Thomas Jefferson High School had 8 and 11 fire code violations, respectively. 

“It is through adherence to fire codes that such tragedies have been prevented, whereas we have no higher charge than guaranteeing the physical safety of our children,” Almore said. 

Teachers, parents and healthcare workers also spoke on the mold, air quality, humidity and high temperatures that are affecting the health of students and faculty. 

“Mold and poor air quality can produce upper respiratory infection symptoms in healthy, non-allergic children and adults,” said a registered nurse in Richmond who primarily works with children. “It does not take much work to understand the health implications generated from poor classroom and facility conditions for students and staff.”

The Richmond City School Board received an update on mold and HVAC systems in facilities. A spokesperson for the facilities update and studies proposed a budget of $325,400 to test RPS facilities. 

“Yes we do have more work to do, but it’s not like you’ve been sitting on your lawns doing nothing,” said vice-chair of RPS Cheryl Burke, in response to the update and proposed budget. 

The district will continue to assess safety issues in RPS concerning mold, HVAC systems and fire codes, she said. 

The next Richmond City School Board meeting will be held on Oct. 16 at River City Middle School. 

Contact City & State writer Ava Humphries at ava.humphries@richmond.edu

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