JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A plan to hold two segregated school cultural meetings has been canceled at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, the Duval County School District said in a statement to News 6 partner News4Jax .

The event, announced by Principal Melanie Hammer, would have arranged for students of color and white students to attend separate meetings in the school cafeteria to “discuss cultural issues that have arisen at the high school.” It’s not clear what exactly those issues are.

Junior and senior students of color were to meet at 9 a.m. and white juniors and seniors were scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m., according to the email sent to parents.

The first email was sent shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday night. Outrage from parents and students erupted .

“Over the last year, there has been tons of attention that has been drawn to the racial divide and tension at Douglas Anderson and there were efforts made to try and pull things together, mend wounds and improve relationships. But, when I saw the memo, I couldn’t believe it. It was like we took a step back,” parent LaToya Gunn told News4Jax .

“Many have reached out with questions regarding why two separate meetings have been scheduled. DA has partnered with a diversity consultant to help address concerns and ensure all student voices are heard. Our diversity consultant is hosting two meetings in hopes of creating a safe space to allow students to be transparent about their experiences at DA.”

“As you know, we have implemented a series of strategies at Douglas Anderson to improve the culture of our school and the experience of our students. Working with consultants in the area of diversity, an event scheduled for Thursday was communicated in such a way as to have the appearance of dividing, not uniting, our student body.

“One of our core values as a school is a belief that the arts is a powerful way to bridge differences among people. We now realize that the communication around the event and the manner in which the event itself was organized are contrary to our values and to the goals we have for improving our culture. Therefore, we are revisiting our approach with our consultants and will develop a new strategy for leading our students through these sensitive topics and conversations. The events scheduled for Thursday are being canceled while we reconsider our approach.

“In collaboration with and on behalf of our consultants and our school, we apologize for the lack of clarity with which this was originally communicated and that our path forward wasn’t more thoughtfully considered. Our commitment to this work with our students and our staff remains steadfast, and I will provide additional information as we revise our plan consistent with our goal of creating a safe space where all students feel comfortable sharing their voices with their peers and with school leaders.”

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