Deena Hayes-Greene November 2016

Deena Hayes-Greene addresses the crowd gathered at the Guilford County Unity Effort watch party at Meridian Center after winning her District 8 seat on the Guilford County School Board on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Greensboro, N.C.

GREENSBORO — School board members elected (Information changed to correct an error. See correction below. 4:49 p.m. Dec. 19) Deena Hayes-Greene as their chairwoman at the Guilford County Board of Education meeting Monday evening.

They also selected T. Dianne Bellamy-Small as vice chairwoman.

This was the first school board meeting since three major events for the district: the spread of a racist video created by a couple of Northwest High students; an armed gunman terrorizing the Smith High School campus; and a historic snowstorm that caused the cancellation of five days of school in a row.

All three came up during the meeting, from both the public as well as board members and the superintendent.

Many spoke out in favor of various ideas to promote equality in the wake of the racist video from the Northwest students. They talked about how the incident has resulted in families at other schools speaking out about hateful things their students have heard in school.

Carla Council, a Northwest Middle parent, said she wanted to see tougher penalties for students who espouse racist views and that each school should have a diversity officer to help students.

A couple of others were interested in changes to increase school security following the incident at Smith. 

And, of course, the record-setting snowfall was also on the minds of many.

Parent Rebekah Sokol referenced the many absences racked up this semester, including five days for the snowstorm, in arguing that the district should be increasing the instructional time it budgets in the calendar.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras said it’s critical that the district continue to reserve many days in the school calendar for professional development.

She added that requirements from the state about when districts are supposed to start and stop school also limit options.

Later in the meeting, school board members voted to accept a recommendation from Contreras and the legislative committee to pursue a waiver for the state’s 1,025 instructional-hour requirement for the 2018-19 school year.

Monday was the first meeting for new District 6 representative Khem Irby, who beat former school board member Wes Cashwell in November’s election.

Correction: Deena Hayes-Greene had been serving as chairwoman since this summer when, as vice chairwoman, she automatically assumed the role after then-chairman Alan Duncan resigned. This is her first time being elected to the position. 

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Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.​

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