BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The East Baton Rouge (EBR) Parish School System used its official Facebook page to post pictures from a Tuesday, September 20 event for students called ‘Day of Hope.’

The pictures were accompanied by a post that said, in part, “Today’s ‘Day of Hope’ event was amazing! We were honored to hear directly from students to help them address the issues they face and to provide them with motivation and guidance to empower their choices.”

Images from the event (pictured below) showed a number of students in an assembly-like setting where screens featuring the phrase ‘Reach for Better- You are Loved!’ were on display.

The post garnered some negative feedback on social media.

A number of commenters claimed the ‘Day of Hope’ event was religious in nature and should not have been promoted by EBR Schools.

For example, one social media user said, “Let me be clear, I am a parent of an elementary age child in the district. Me nor my child were in attendance. That being said, from everything I’ve read about this event, the EBR school district should be ashamed of themselves, not proud. This is exactly what NOT TO DO if you are servicing a public school district.”

Another added, “DAY OF HOPE? More like day of trauma. You prayed over my child, told her that she should remain abstinent, talked to her about suicide, and told her that if she’s being abused in a domestic violence situation that she should forgive her abuser even if he’s not sorry.”

Yet another commenter said, “This should be a class action lawsuit. This was an extreme violation of their first amendment right to freedom of (or from) religion, as well as their 15th amendment rights of equal protection under the law. If EBR is sued enough, they will be forced to replace the sickos that held this event.”

After a number of comments similar to the ones above appeared online, EBR Schools released a statement on the event care of its Chief of Communications & Family Engagement, Letrece Griffin.

Griffin’s statement was issued Wednesday, September 21 and can be found below.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System has partnered with 29:11 Mentoring Families to provide additional support services for students in our district. One of these initiatives is the “Day of Hope” event. The event was structured to assist students with exploring what options are available after high school, along with allowing students to participate in breakout sessions and student-initiated activities and projects. By providing entertaining activities with an educational focus, this event was an elevation of a traditional college and career fair. Students were provided with lunch and a rare opportunity to mingle with their peers from other high schools in one setting. We look forward to seeing what our over 2,100 student participants will continue to achieve with the resources and knowledge gained from this event. 

Letrece R. Griffin, Chief of Communications & Family Engagement at EBR Schools