BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Since late September, BRProud has been reporting on backlash following the East Baton Rouge Parish School System’s September 20, ‘Day of Hope’ event.
EBR Schools Superintendent Sito Narcisse issued a lengthy statement Thursday (October 6) evening around 5 p.m., saying that any claims made against EBR Schools and the Day of Hope event have been investigated and at this point, found to be baseless.
The statement says, in part, “As we have viewed stated accounts provided to media outlets and heard troubling accusations and individual take-away perceptions of the event, we have not received, nor have we been able to find verifiable evidence supporting any of those claims and accusations.”
Why the controversy?
According to EBR Schools, the field trip was a college and career fair designed to help high school seniors address various issues teens face and to motivate them to make empowered choices.
But the day after the event, some parents claimed the program negatively affected students, even leaving some traumatized.
These individuals complained that the field trip had religious undertones and failed to properly navigate sensitive topics.
Some threatened EBR Schools with potential lawsuits.
For example, one local parent launched a GofundMe page in hopes of raising funds to support a lawsuit.
The page claims that during the event, “Boys were encouraged to perform macho acts while girls were advised to forgive men who rape and assault them. Speakers subjected students to graphic tales and reenactment of suicide, which left some students with past loss due to suicide disturbed and upset with no emotional support to help them. ”
After such accusations, even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressed serious concerns about the event.
EBR Schools’ latest statement
In the wake of widespread public criticism, EBR Schools issued several statements regarding the matter.
The most recent, directly from Superintendent Narcisse, says, “There have been no direct, attributable quotes to support narratives provided by a few individual students, nor have we
found consensus in media reports about what may or may not have happened that day. The claims made are not “testimony.” They are subjective, individual, and personal accounts provided by a few.”
Narcisse adds that, “In the two weeks since the event, EBR Schools has received a total of one direct email containing a parent’s concerns about this event.”
The superintendent concludes his statement with the words, “It is my job — and responsibility — to lead our school system, and that is where I will continue to maintain my focus. Should any hard evidence be received or presented, I am more than willing to accept it and take any appropriate resulting action.”
The statement can be viewed in full below.
Click here for more information regarding EBR School’s actions in regards to the Day of Hope event and ensuing investigation.