71 speakers spoke to the VBCPS board on Tuesday in response to Manning’s ESL comment


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Seventy-one people spoke before the Virginia Beach School Board Tuesday in response to a Facebook post made last month by board member Vicky Manning.

A common phrase heard among the group of speakers – “todos somos bienvenidos aqui.”

It means ‘We are all welcome here.’ This phrase is repeated in Spanish when the speaker looks directly at Manning.

A press conference uniting people from all over the community was held before the meeting of the Virginia Commission on Human Rights.

“It brings down our entire democracy. We thrived because we were a land of immigrants,” said Rabbi Israel Zoberman of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission.

For the first time in nearly eight months, a conference room filled with students, teachers, immigrants and school principals denouncing Manning’s Facebook posts.

“At Cooke, we have a school environment and culture where everyone is valued and given what they need to succeed and it is different for every child and every family, ” said Casey Conger, Principal of Cooke Elementary School.

Board member Jessica Owens told 10 On Your Side that she doesn’t believe her colleague’s claims.

“I am shocked and disappointed that it is not representative of our school system,” Owens said.

Some parents like Annie Palumbo have come to Manning’s defense.

“We know what Vicky said. You all know what Vicky said. One day it will come back to all of you,” Palumbo said.

Manning has yet to respond to public comments Tuesday. She previously released a statement about ESL students and the program on her website, in which she said that with teacher and funding shortages, as well as growing demand in the ESL program, meeting future demand is unsustainable.

Click here to read Manning’s full statement. 71 speakers spoke to the VBCPS board on Tuesday in response to Manning’s ESL comment

Russell Falcon

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