Lynchburg teacher involved in controversial interruption of black history presentation resigns

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LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) - A Dunbar Middle School teacher accused of interrupting a Black History Month presentation at the school has resigned.

The School Board announced 7th grade English teacher Jason Tyree's resignation at its board meeting Tuesday night.

According to teachers and students, Jason Tyree interrupted the February 26 program that featured a performance of gospel songs by the LU Praise Group from Liberty University. A letter sent home to parents said an employee disrupted the program when he went to the microphone on stage and expressed his offense with the singing portion of the program. He then announced that students could leave the auditorium with him if they were also offended.

In the letter, Superintendent Scott Braband said "the inclusion of some gospel music as a minor component of the program was to reflect the importance of that musical genre to the African American community as it struggled for equal rights, and such use had a secular and education purpose in the context of a larger program that was not intended to advance any religious agenda."

In a follow up letter a few days later, Braband wrote, "I believe that it is essential that we are tolerant, understanding, and inclusive of people of all religious beliefs, or non-religious belief, and race and identity."

As a result of the incident, Lynchburg City Schools has teamed up with the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities (VCIC) to begin a listening tour to gain a better understanding of the concerns regarding the incident. There will be three forums throughout the city:

March 21: Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. 1000 Langhorne Rd.

April 4: Jubilee Family Development Center- 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. 1512 Florida Ave.

April 12: Miller Center, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. 301 Grove St.

Those who can't attend a forum can share their comments and concerns at www.lcsedu.net/ListeningTour.   

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