Norfolk assistant principal apologizes for retweet

Norfolk assistant principal apologizes for retweet

NORFOLK -- The Booker T. Washington High School assistant principal who stirred up controversy with a social media post that some find racially offensive released a statement Thursday.

Amy Strickland said in a statement released by her attorney that she "casually forwarded" a tweet, which originated from an account called "Or Nah Tweets," to one of her daughters.

The tweet shows seven white girls, accompanied by seven young black men, to what looks like a dance.

The caption reads, "Every white girl's father's worse nightmare Or Nah."

"The "tweet" appeared to me at the time to have been an attempt at good natured humor concerning mixed race couples attending a high school prom," Strickland wrote. "Because I have two daughters who in fact did attend proms with African American dates, I casually forwarded the "tweet" last June to one of those daughters."

She says in the statement that she devoted years of her life to educating students and last year was named "Teacher of the Year" for a predominantly African American Portsmouth school.

"Media reports suggesting that I am racially prejudiced are one thousand percent false, as my record and my many students, colleagues, friends, and family members who are African American can and, if necessary, will attest," she wrote. "I deeply apologize to anyone I have inadvertently offended."

Many students say though that it was hurtful to see the school leader's retweet.

"Me being a young African-American, I don't think of myself as anyone's worst nightmare," said Michael Lemelle, a student at Booker T. Washington.

Lemelle and about a dozen other students walked out of school Monday to protest the issue. They say that's the only way they feel they can be heard.

They have taken their concerns to other administrators and even the school board, but nothing has been done, yet.

"This was the only actual way we could get someone's attention, was to walk outside. It shouldn't have come to this, but she's avoided all meetings and public speakings and emails, just avoided them all," said Washington.

Shortly after 13News Now asked Norfolk Public Schools about the tweet, it disappeared. Later, the entire twitter account was deleted too. Students say since then, administrators haven't done anything to resolve the issue. The students who protested don't want to see anyone get fired, they just want the issue addressed.

"The students will even tell you, we don't want her to be fired because everybody needs a job. Transfer her, punish her, do something to let us know it has not gone unnoticed," said student Shakira Harris.

13News Now repeatedly reached out to Norfolk Public Schools but each time we were told they could not comment because the issue is a personnel matter.

Norfolk Federation of Teachers President Thomas Calhoun issued the following statement Tuesday:

I do think an NPS employee tweeting or retweeting this type of message is disturbing. I also think that the lack of urgency in which the school board and the administration addresses these types of issues adds to the problem. Sometimes they seem to be hoping the problem will go away or maybe no one will notice. I feel everyone would be better served if they would address issues before the news media, the public, the staff, and the students get involved and form their own opinions of what is going on. This is especially true when it comes to administrators. NPS Administration has always been more protective, secretive, and forgiving of its members than the other staff employees. This didn't start with Dr. King.

Statement from School Board Chairman Dr. Kirk T. Houston Sr. on Tuesday:

The School Board is aware and takes the allegations seriously. The Norfolk Public Schools administration is reviewing the matter for appropriate action.

The NAACP sent 13News Now the following statement:

Last night, the news reported that an Assistant Principal at Booker T. Washington High School, Amy Strickland, in June posted a racist tweet. Students at Booker T said that it was recently re-tweeted. "It shows a picture of seven couples in prom clothing, all the young men are black and all the young women are white. The caption reads: "Every white girl's father's worst nightmare." Many of the students found this to be racially offensive.

The Norfolk Branch NAACP was aware of these allegations a few days ago and has launched its own investigation into the matter.

We hold the administration accountable for their actions. We will not tolerate racism in this city and definitely not in the education system. Booker T. Washington High School is a fragile school; and the last thing we need in our community are students walking out of school in protest to racist administrators.

The [residents] of Norfolk, the students of Norfolk and the Norfolk Branch NAACP ask for quick and just adjudication of Assistant Principal Amy Strickland's behavior.

Joe W. Dillard, President
Norfolk Branch NAACP


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