In Virginia, Black girls are 5.2 times more likely to be suspended than white girls, yet there is a lack of evidence that Black girls misbehave more often. Research also shows Black girls are often punished for minor and subjective offenses like dress code violations, and youth suspended from school in Virginia are more likely to experience adverse academic outcomes.
To address the impact of school discipline on equal access to education for Black girls, students, policymakers, and community leaders from across the state will host a forum on Saturday, co-hosted by Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and National Women’s Law Center. National Crittenton is a co-sponsor of the forum.
Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Qarni will deliver opening remarks at the forum. Panelists include Virginia Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, RISE for Youth Executive Director Valerie Slater and RISE student advocate Lux Aghomo; Girls for A Change Girls Action Team leaders Danielle Freeman Jefferson and Solange Oliver; University of Virginia Institute of Education Science pre-doctoral fellow Lauren Mims; and National Women Law Center Campaign and Digital Strategies Manager Nia Evans.
Lux Aghomo is a tenth grader at Richmond Community High School. She is a young activist and a Youth for RISE member. After seeing injustice in her community she was inspired to join
RISE and be a youth member speaking for juvenile justice.
Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy currently represents the Second House District, which contains parts of Prince William and Stafford County. She was the first public defender to ever serve in the Virginia General Assembly and now devotes her time as an attorney advocate representing abused and neglected children in court. Delegate Carroll Foy was also a foster mother for eight years. Because she believes so strongly that no child should be without a nurturing home, she started the Foundation for Foster and Orphan Children, a nonprofit committed to building better futures for orphan and foster children. Additionally, the Delegate was one of the first African-American women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute.
Danielle Freeman Jefferson is a freshman Landscape Architecture student attending North Carolina A&T State University. In the future I will be able to build and redesign communities to mediate housing insecurities in areas that are poverty stricken. I am invested in the social issues
of our society and am committed to lessening their effect for as many people as I am able to. I
will do that through education as well as direct service to communities affected most by mass
incarceration, food and housing insecurities, and social injustice.
Lauren Mims is a doctoral candidate in Educational Psychology: Applied Developmental
Science at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. Lauren was formerly Assistant
Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans
(WHIEEAA) during the Obama Administration. She was a member of the White House Council
on Women & Girls, the U.S. Department of Education Policy Committee, the U.S. Department
of Education Socioeconomic Diversity Working Group, as well as a member of First Lady
Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Working Group. Lauren is interested in how race and ethnicity
affect psychosocial and academic outcomes in youth, particularly among African American
Solange Oliver is a junior at Meadowbrook High School. I have dedicated my high school
career to my schools Entrepreneurship Academy, and I have learned more about myself in this
field. I found more ways to utilize my space to create social change and progress. One of the
areas of social change that I am mostly passionate about, is advocating for other black girls and
myself. I see myself continuing this passion in my future.
Valerie Slater is an attorney and Executive Director of RISE (Re-Invest in Supportive
Environments) for Youth, where her work leads statewide advocacy for the rights and protection
of justice system involved youth. Valerie’s life work is dedicated to advocacy in its many forms
to preserve and protect our most valuable resource, our youth. She brings to her work an
unwavering commitment to strengthen youth and communities to lead the efforts to realize their
visions for change.