Students protest firings by walking out of school

JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – Around 100 students at Warhill High School walked out of school Thursday morning in protest.

The students organized the walkout around 9 a.m. They claimed they were unhappy about recent firings at the school. School spokeswoman Betsy OverKamp-Smith said there have been recent staff changes, including transfers, resignations, retirements and leave of absences, but didn’t mention firings.

Police were not on scene during the protest, however, the school’s resource officer did advise students they were not allowed to leave the school without permission.

Pictures from the walkout showed a large group of students standing with signs, including one that read “We do not support admin.”

Students began reporting on social media after the walkout that fights broke out. OverKamp-Smith confirmed the fight was over a girl and one student was injured. Two 16 year old boys and a 17 year old boy are facing charges. They were released to their parents.

Warhill High School Principal Jeff Carroll sent two messages Thursday regarding the protest and fight. The messages were similar.

This is the one he sent students and staff before dismissal:

Today, a group of WHS students peacefully protested to raise awareness of their support for staff members at our school. I respect the students’ right to share their concerns and commend them for their maturity in how they handled themselves this morning. I will continue to have an open door for any student or parent who would like to talk with me about the direction of our school.

After the protest, an unrelated fight occurred in one of our hallways. It is important for all students to know that we will take appropriate disciplinary action because the safety of our students and staff is our priority. As you know, we continued with instruction today, and we will continue instruction tomorrow. We have been made aware of rumors that prom and graduation will be impacted by today’s event. This is untrue. I look forward to seeing you at prom, and I look forward to working with you to end our school year successfully.

To parents through the school’s phone messenger system:

Good afternoon, parents. This is Jeff Carroll, Warhill High School principal. Today, approximately 100 students participated in a peaceful protest of recent staffing decisions that have been made at Warhill. I respect the students’ right to share their concerns and commend them for their maturity in how they handled themselves this morning. I will continue to have an open door for any student or parent who would like to share concerns that they might have about our school.

After the protest, an unrelated fight occurred in one of our hallways. Two students were involved and one student was injured. I can assure you that appropriate disciplinary action will occur, and that the police department is also investigating the incident for potential charges. Again, this fight was unrelated to the students’ peaceful protest.

We have continued with instruction today, and we will be available to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you for your support of our students and staff.

Jeff Carroll is Warhill High School’s 6th principal since the school opened in 2007.

WAVY.com has been working to get more information. Stay tuned for more on this developing story.

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