Barrow urges advocacy for students

Published 10:07 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Staff Write

Revondia Harvey Barrow is a founding member of Concerned Citizens for the Betterment of Beaufort County Schools, an organization that has approached the Beaufort County Board of Education with concerns about suspension policies.
“I am a parent-advocate,” said Barrow, a Chocowinity resident who’s running against Terry Williams for the open school board seat in District 4.
As a parent, Barrow took part in a lawsuit against the school board after her daughter was suspended for her alleged role in a confrontation on school property.
Last week, the N.C. Supreme Court ruled that a school system cannot suspend a student long-term without providing a reason for denying that student an education.
The long-term suspension led Barrow to the beginning of her candidacy, she confirmed.
“They’re students. They make mistakes,” she said.
Barrow agreed there must be discipline in the schools, adding she took offense at the “arrogance in power” that prevented her from getting answers to questions about how her daughter was treated.
“Even making a mistake, they are entitled to some kind of education,” she declared.
The state Supreme Court ruled students aren’t entitled to an education if they break school rules, but Barrow interpreted the ruling as a victory because, she said, it provided the clarification she sought.
“If you send someone to prison or reform school, you educate them,” she said.
Barrow said she had found, through her research, that three of the students suspended for the same incident in which her daughter was suspended had ended up in the penal system.
“They’re gone forever,” Barrow commented.
Removing such students from the school system takes away their “will to want to do,” she said.
Barrow added she chose to run because she wanted “to be a voice.”
“When I went to my representative from my area, I got no response,” she said. “When I have a concern and I come to you as an elected official, I want to be heard.”
Barrow said she’d like to make the school board more “people friendly.”
“If you’re representing our area, we vote you in,” she said. “At least hear me.”
Barrow acknowledged some people view her as an angry activist.
“That’s not what it’s about,” she said. “My concern is about the children.”
She said she wants to bridge what she described as a gap separating parents from school officials.
She also spoke in support of teachers.
“I would favor serving our qualified teachers in this county,” she said. “Let’s get them here and keep them here.”
She offered no specific information as to how she would enhance teacher recruitment and retention.
Barrow said some young educators, fresh out of college, may come to the area without a full understanding of the culture here, and that, as an advocate, she could help guide these newcomers.