Woodford County Schools responds to controversial letter

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WOODFORD COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - They say...they meant well. A Central Kentucky school district is taking some heat over a letter sent home to parents.

The letter mentions achievement gaps in some minority student groups at Woodford County High School and some parents say they found it 'offensive'.

WKYT obtained a copy of that letter. The first paragraph which is causing the controversy reads;

"Dear parent or guardian, On Thursday December, 13th at 8:30, we will be calling all our African American students down to the cafeteria. Our recent data shows gaps in particular groups of students including: free/reduced lunch, Hispanic, and African American, so we are calling these students down to offer some additional forms of support to them."

"We certainly apologize," said Woodford County Schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins. "I wish I could go back, and the letter could be worded differently."

He said the letter was signed by the assistant principal and sent out to 66 of the school's 1,230 students, but a committee planned and organized the Thursday morning meeting.

Marisa Richards is one of the students who received a letter. "When I first read it on the bus it brought tears to my eyes," she said, because she felt embarrassed and singled out.

"It was the way it was written," Marisa's mother, Gloria Payne told WKYT.

Payne says she also found it offensive, mostly because her daughter was so upset.

"You can't single out African-Americans like that," she continued.

Superintendent Hawkins said that was never the letters intent and he wants to reassure students and parents, the letters intentions, were good.

"And if you read beyond the first paragraph you can see that," he said. "The more that we can show students that we care about them and that we want to be there to help. The better chance they have to be successful and that's really what we are trying to do."

Thursday's meeting was cancelled, at this point it has not been rescheduled.

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