4As hosting forum on Eastside movie
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
Controversy surrounding "The Eastside High School Movie" will be the center of attention at a community forum being sponsored by the African American Accountability Alliance of Alachua County.
What: Community forum sponsored by the 4As to discuss “The Eastside High School Movie.”
When: 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Where: Alachua County Health Department, 224 SE 24th St.
Information: Call 352-246-8071 or 352-260-3003.
The forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Alachua County Health Department at 224 SE 24th St. Darry Lloyd, president of the 4As, said the organization is hoping to seat a panel of students who participated in the video and their parents.
"The gist of the forum is to actually engage in a real conversation about what we perceive as adults is wrong with the video and what the kids perceive as right with the video," Lloyd said. "We want to have a true conversation about what we're looking at."
The video features mostly African-American students using profanity, dancing provocatively, disrespecting teachers, expressing their dislike for the food served in the cafeteria, fighting, showing off their tattoos and female students bragging about their buttocks, while also featuring some students who acted and talked sensibly.
Lloyd and Julian Kinsey, education committee chair of the 4As, invited Alachua County School Board members last Tuesday night to attend the forum during the citizens input part of the board's regular meeting.
Lloyd said three board members — April Griffin, Leanetta McNealy and Gunnar Paulson — are active members of the 4As. However, he said state law will prevent them and the other board members from actively participating in the forum, but he did say their presence would be nice just in case individual students want to talk with them privately.
Board members contacted Tuesday by the Guardian said they have been advised by the board's legal staff not to attend, but one member, chair Eileen Roy, said she will attend the forum just to hear the discussion, because as an elected official, she thinks it is important to hear what her constituents have to say. She said she won't be able to say anything because of student confidentiality laws, but she thinks it is her obligation to hear what is said.
Roy said other representatives from the school district also will participate in the meeting.
Jeff Charbonnet, principal at Eastside, won't be in attendance either, but he wrote in an email that a representative from Eastside will attend. He also wrote that the student-produced movie, which was uploaded to YouTube in late January, "is not an accurate characterization of Eastside High School. It is mainly the product of some kids acting inappropriately in front of a video camera, and then one of them putting it on YouTube."
The student primarily behind the movie is Darrin Gillins, a former student in the Institute of Culinary Arts at Eastside, who has since moved to another community to live with a parent, Charbonnet told the Gainesville Sun last week. Charbonnet wrote that he thinks the students in the video would have acted differently if they knew the video was going to be put on the Internet.
He also wrote that there are many videos on YouTube showing teenagers doing and saying outlandish things and he said many current students and alumni from the school have contacted him "very upset that they all have been characterized inaccurately by such a negative representation as this video."
According to Charbonnet, African-American students at Eastside have been making great strides in recent years and have steadily increased their graduation rate. The graduation rate for African-American students at Eastside was 40 percent in 2007, 47 percent in 2008, 60 percent in 2009 and 75 percent in 2010.
"Detailed reports have not been released for last year, but based on school grade data, Eastside had the highest graduation rate overall and the highest for at risk students in the school district," Charbonnet wrote. "We have a dedicated, professional faculty, and the vast majority of our students work hard every day and have a successful, positive school experience."