Jocelyn Thomas, Daija Wilkes, Victoria Hall and Teylor Nelson are four black female high school students who attend Wagner High School in San Antonio, Texas. Although Nelson is a freshman, Thomas, Wilkes, and Hall are seniors will graduate June 2, 2015. We respectfully refer to them as “The Wagner Four.”
On Friday, May 15, 2015 the Wagner Four, were suspended for a demonstration at a school-sponsored fashion show the night before. They participated in the fashion show as models, which took place Thursday night at Rolling Oaks Mall. As the last group to take the runway, and without disruption to other participants, they wore signs as accessories to there clothing reading “Black Lives Matter” “We Can’t Breathe” “Trans Lives Matter” “I AM Mike Brown, Marquise Jones, Aiyana Jones, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner.”
In an interview given to San Antonio News Express, Steve Linscomb, Judson Independent School District–JISD director of public information, said that “appropriate discipline has been taken” but declined to detail the punishment. He added the fashion show, which in a previous news release was called a “big event,” was not the “proper place or forum to take the spotlight.”
Currently, the Wagner Four are on a three day suspension, which began Friday May 15th. We disagree with the Administration of Wagner High School, to include Principal Donald E. Stewart Jr. and the Judson Independent School District. Considering what happened at the fashion show, we believe the discipline given to the Wagner Four is excessive and unacceptable. Therefore we call for the following actions to take place no later than Monday, May 18th, 2015:
- All disciplinary actions against the Wagner four be dropped immediately.
- Administration and staff will refrain from any and all verbal threats to the students as form of disciplinary action. To include any form of criminal trespass.
- Principal Stewart and his administrative team provide the Wagner Four and their families a written copy of how the students will be allowed to make up work and class finals. No student should receive a penalty in the grading of any and all coursework due to suspension.
- Students be reassured they will walk with their graduating class. To include Victoria Hall, Vice President of student council, be allowed to give her speech to the graduating class.
In the wake of national attention given to the bold statements the Wagner Four wore during the fashion show, we agree this is protected by their first amendment right. We echo those statements “Black Lives Matter” “We Can’t Breathe” “Trans Lives Matter” “I AM Mike Brown, Marquise Jones, Aiyana Jones, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner.” The Wagner Four are creative, influential, and positively active in Wagner high school. These same individuals are members of a community which demand justice and equality for those who have yet to receive justice and equality. We are SATX4 and today we stand withthe Wagner Four!
If you believe this discipline to be excessive and want the see the Wagner Four continue their academic progress without reprisal or delay, sign this petition dropping the suspension and all other disciplinary actions against Jocelyn Thomas, Daija Wilkes, Victoria Hall and Teylor Nelson–The Wagner Four.
UPDATE on Friday, May 22nd, as the petition neared 2600 sigs…
Victory for the Wagner Four!
May 22, 2015 — The Wagner Four has been cleared of any and all disciplinary actions. All of the girls have returned to school, and will be allowed to make up all school work with no penalty to their grades. They will graduate with their peers on June 2, 2015, and Victoria Hall, Vice President of the Student Council, will be allowed to make her speech.
We thank every individual supporter from across this county and across the world. Your support shows us what solidarity looks like. We commend Jocelyn Thomas, Victoria Hall, Daija Wilkes, and Teylor Nelson-The Wagner Four for standing firm in the face of adversity, and giving a voice to the voiceless.
By way of broader credit, recognize allies as well: the Social Issues Group from SAC who got up at unseemly hours to leaflet, and the diverse deputation assembled by Rachell Tucker who put the questions to Superintendent Montoya at Judson Early College Academy on Tuesday evening.