RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — A former teacher with Richmond Public Schools is banned from stepping foot inside any Richmond school, but many parents and students say they don’t agree with that decision.
Malcolm Solomon was spending much of his time volunteering at his former school, Chimborazo Elementary, to be a role model for students until he says he was pushed out. After teaching for five years, Solomon said differences with school administrators led him to resign.
It’s what happened afterwards that has a community demanding answers.
If you ask around, you will find that Solomon isn’t your ordinary teacher.
"A lot of teachers, when the bell rings, they’re out the door. To see this man stay after to give these kids what they need and then to tutor on Saturdays to give up his free time, that’s special. That’s a special person right there,” parent Jason Speas said.
"He gave my kid clothes. He made sure that DJ, when he was struggling in his class with SOLs, he came and got him on that Saturday to make sure he came and passed his scores,” Dominique Cody said.
Although he loved his job, Solomon said he resigned from teaching at Chimborazo due to differences with school leaders – but he routinely came back to check on his former students.
"I was working with students who are weak in certain subject areas. Students who I knew had certain behavior problems. I would come mentor them as well to make sure they are being their best selves,” Solomon said.
But he can’t anymore.
The school district sent Solomon a letter saying he’s banned from stepping foot at any school. He says he was told it’s because he criticized school staff on social media and encouraged parents to place his name on their students’ emergency contact forms, something some parents did because their children look up to him.
“When we ask for him to come into the school building to help our child, he should not be banned from that," Khalidah Byrd said. "He’s going the extra mile to come and help these children.”
Solomon is now fighting the ban. He spoke out at a school board meeting Monday and protested outside of his former school each day this week. Students are showing their support too.
"He’s been my favorite teacher out of all my years in school,” said fourth-grader Djhontae Brown-Ridge.
“So he doesn’t agree with certain things, what’s wrong with that?” Cody said. “This is America. We’re going to agree to disagree - period. If he was a bad person, the kids wouldn’t be attracted to him. They would be afraid of him, so that says a lot.”
It’s why they’re standing together to demand RPS lift the ban.
“Unjust. Not fair,” Speas said.
”He’s like my second father to me,” fifth-grader Naiim Byrd added.
The ban has been in place since February.
“We do not take banning someone from a school lightly. However, student and staff safety is our top priority, and sometimes therefore requiring someone to stay away from a school is necessary based on a thorough investigation of the issues. Bans can be lifted after a period of time,” RPS representative Michelle Hudacsko said in a statement.
RPS says it is looking into the issues surrounding Solomon’s case.
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