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Richmond, VA – Richmond, VA – Richmond Public Schools (RPS) today celebrated the official renaming and dedication of Lois Harrison-Jones Elementary School, at 3021 Maplewood Avenue in the West End. The ceremony included remarks from Dr. Lois Harrison-Jones Fears, for whom the school is named. 

Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Dr. Harrison-Jones Fears received her degree from Virginia State University and became a sixth-grade teacher in RPS. She began teaching in 1954, the same year that Brown v. Board of Education integrated public schools, and she rose to become a principal and then a Division administrator. In 1985, she became the first Black woman to hold the role of Superintendent of Richmond Public Schools.

“A couple of years ago, we decided here at Richmond Public Schools, that we were going to make sure the names of our schools reflected our values of inclusion, equity, justice and of creating a better future for our children and for the city,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras. “I truly cannot think of anyone who better embodies these values more than Dr. Lois Harrison-Jones.”

Formerly named after a confederate general, the Richmond City School Board approved changing the name of the school from John B. Cary Elementary to Lois Harrison-Jones Elementary School in June 2023, honoring Virginia's first Black woman to hold the role of State Superintendent for Education. Dr. Harrison-Jones Fears was nominated through a community-engagement process intended to ensure that the names of every building in RPS aligned to the Division’s core values. 

“I believe that no school is any better than the four pillars that are established within the school, the first being the home,” said Dr. Harrison-Jones Fears. "You send us the most precious thing you have in your home, and they are your children.”

“Dr. Harrison-Jones represents all of the values that I shared before...and excellence,” said Superintendent Jason Kamras. “If you spend any time with her, you know that her bar is set very high...for herself, for her team, and most of all for our students.”

The day included a welcome from Principal Nick LeReche, fifth-grader Bernard Brown, special performances by the school’s cheerleading team and choir, as well as remarks from Superintendent Kamras, and Dr. Harrison-Jones Fears. RPS Board Chair Stephanie Rizzi led guests in the unveiling of the school's newly installed marquee. 

Lois Harrison-Jones Elementary is one of four schools being renamed by RPS this year, after a process of community engagement. A celebration at Francis W. McClenney Elementary School will be held on April 23. Ceremonies at Dogwood Middle School and the Richmond High School for the Arts will follow. 

June 6 was intended to be a joyful day for Richmond graduates. Instead, it ended in a senseless tragedy that took two lives, and destroyed countless others. We continue to mourn the loss of Shawn Jackson and his step-father Lorenzo Smith, and pray that Mrs. Jackson-Smith finds some closure and peace with the conclusion of the trial. We encourage any students or staff retraumatized by the legal proceedings to seek support from a family member or friend, a trusted colleague, or a healthcare provider. 

Far too many children in our community continue to be impacted by gun violence every day. We plead with all of Richmond to continue working, by any means necessary, to eliminate this devastating epidemic and its root causes. We owe that to Shawn, and to all the children and youth of this city.  

The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) and Richmond Public Schools (RPS) are partnering to offer in-school immunization clinics in February and March. RPS families are encouraged to sign the RPS-provided consent form and have their 6th and 11th graders receive their school-required immunizations ahead of the traditional Back-to-School season.

Richmond, VA – Last night, the Richmond Public Schools (RPS) School Board voted unanimously to appoint Ms. Shavonda Dixon as the School Board Representative for the Ninth District. 

A Virginia native and dedicated mother of two, Ms. Dixon is a proud RPS alumn and graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. She is a passionate advocate for serving the community and enriching the lives of children in Richmond Public Schools. 

Ms. Dixon will be sworn in next week and will be seated at the School Board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 20 at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.

The Richmond City School Board and the RPS Administration welcome the release of the Monroe Park shooting report prepared by the Sands Anderson law firm and are grateful for the professionalism and sensitivity with which they conducted their investigation. Transparency is critical for a public entity like RPS and we look forward to sharing the information included in this report.

The Board initially voted not to release the report because, among other things, a majority believed the report included legal guidance that was exempt from release; wanted to uphold the promise of confidentiality made to RPS employees who participated in the investigation, and hoped to avoid taking any action that might jeopardize the ongoing criminal case against the alleged assailant.

We respect the Court’s decision and welcome the opportunity to share the report’s findings. We also acknowledge and respect the minority of the Board that advocated for the release of the report earlier. 

Our shared commitment is to learn from this tragedy and continue to improve in order to further safeguard our students and staff. We already have taken several steps, including updating our policies about who can authorize students to participate in a graduation ceremony, revising our security protocols for all student events (including graduations), and investing millions in updated security infrastructure, including cameras, access control systems, metal detectors, intercoms, digital school maps for first responders, and more. 

We want to thank everyone who participated in the investigation, and especially those who were closest to the student we lost. We also encourage students who may feel re-traumatized by the release of the report to let their school counselor or teacher know so that we can provide the necessary support. Similarly, we encourage any affected staff members to connect with a trusted colleague and seek out professional help from our healthcare provider. Finally, we ask all of Richmond to continue working by any means necessary to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence that afflicts too many of our communities. We owe at least that much to the children and youth of this city.

Stephanie Rizzi, Chair, Richmond City School Board

Elizabeth Doerr, Vice Chair, Richmond City School Board

Jason Kamras, Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools

Update January 23: Richmond Public Schools learned from Sands Anderson on January 22 that the transcript of the Superintendent's interview was inadvertently left out of the exhibits included as part of the documentation that the Division received from Sands Anderson. Sands Anderson collected all exhibits as part of their independent investigation. The Division received a copy on January 22 and is posting that now.