What do you think should happen to a student who breaks up a fight at school? Should she immediately be suspended? That’s apparently what happened in the Fort Bend Independent School District on the campus of Thurgood Marshall High School.
One community activist claims the action taken is part of a bigger problem of discrimination at Fort Bend ISD, where she says black students are disproportionately punished.
Honey Brown Hope Foundation founder Tammie Lang Campbell says she was shocked and disgusted to learn a student who broke up a fight actually ended up thrown out of school.
"School is very important — I don’t like missing school,” says 17-year-old honor student Nahyle Agomo. She was recently forced to stay home because she was suspended for three days after she says she stopped schoolmates from fighting.
"My intent was to stop a pregnant student for getting hurt," describes Agomo. The Thurgood Marshall High School junior says she just couldn’t allow that pregnant student to be attacked by four girls.
"She was like, 'I don’t give an 'F' if you’re pregnant,' so that’s when I involved myself," adds Agomo. "I stepped in between them. I put my hands up and I was like, 'Y’all are not going to fight. This student is pregnant.'"
"It was very upsetting because I’ve taught her that’s what you’re supposed to do," says Agomo's mother Cristal Mason. "So essentially, it’s like I told her to do the very thing she got in trouble for."
"It takes a village to raise a hero," adds Campbell, who says she "was appalled" when she heard why the teen was suspended. "We’ve got a hero on our hands.” For that reason, Campbell is presenting the Agomo with the foundation's Peacekeeper Award.
"Despite what the district has done, it’s important for us to value her and to send a message to her and other young people to take a stand for right,” says Campbell.
"Mrs. Campbell is such a good person," adds Mason. "She assisted in a time when I felt me and my daughter were alone fighting an unfair system.”
Campbell points to Texas Education Agency data that more African American students in the district have received out of school suspension. In fact, Fort Bend ISD entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights as the department initiated an investigation into whether Fort Bend ISD discriminates against African American students by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly.
During the presentation, Campbell told Agomo, "On Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday we want to say, you’re carrying on the legacy of Dr. King."
What is the district saying about this? Fort Bend ISD says it cannot share information about specific students but did release the following statement:
Fort Bend ISD is committed to providing safe and supportive learning environments for all of our more than 76,000 students.
Throughout the last six years, Fort Bend ISD has made many strides to support students and staff members, including the establishment of the Department of Student Affairs, which supports campus principals and administrators, and guides them through behavior management scenarios that keep their campuses safe and secure. The department also trains and advises campus administrators on disciplinary procedures and hears all appeals to ensure that discipline is fairly and consistently applied in accordance with the FBISD Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct outlines all expectations for student behavior and is reviewed annually and approved by our Board of Trustees. This Code of Conduct is used by all of our administrators and is shared with parents and is posted online so everyone is aware of the expectations that we hold for all students.
More information about Fort Bend ISD’s cooperation and resolution with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) compliance review can be found on the Fort Bend ISD website. While there has been some confusion in the media about its purpose and the resolution agreement, Fort Bend ISD remains committed to doing everything we can to support all students in a fair and consistent manner, and giving them the tools and skills they need to resolve conflict and repair relationships in a way that is respectful and productive.
Note that the Voluntary Resolution Agreement between Fort Bend ISD and the Department of Education has been resolved and specifically says the arrangement is not an admission of any wrongdoing.