BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — After a recent field trip left parents and students upset, an East Baton Rouge Parish school board member shares his thoughts on allegations surrounding Day of Hope.

The East Baton Rouge Parish School System is continuing to investigate the Day of Hope event after parents expressed their outrage online along with threats of a lawsuit.

“Our city right now is crying out for help, Our city is crying out for hope,” said East Baton Rouge School Board Member Tramelle Howard of District 3.

According to Howard, he says he was out of town when the event occurred. When he came back to Baton Rouge, he was tagged in a post and was caught off guard. The Day of Hope field trip was meant to inspire students toward life goals, however, for some, it didn’t turn out that way.

“I thought that’s what we would be talking about,” said Howard. “It’s like how people came together students specifically in a time where our city is crying out for help.”

However, parents and students complained about the event online, saying their kids called it sexist and transphobic. In addition, topics of suicide, rape, and abuse were brought up during the event.

Howard claims that these events never happened, according to his students. He claims that his students had a great time at the event and appreciated how 2,100 students came together.

“It wasn’t a student who was actually at the event. It was a post about a parent saying that ‘my student’s friend, told them that this is what they experienced,'” said Howard.

People posting on social media claim that boys were encouraged to do push-ups for compensation and girls were supposed to forgive their abusers, and that water was poured on LGBTQ+ students. Students have also claimed they were forced to register to vote or they would not be given food.

“I don’t ascribe to that notion,” said Howard. “This event was about specifically targeting people. But the fact that folks can believe that someone would just say, ‘In order for you to eat, you have to register to vote.’ I just thought that was crazy.”

What puzzles Howard is the lack of evidence that these events took place during the Day of Hope field trip.

“In the world of camera phones, and being out at every account, I was looking for an opportunity to see kids being poured water on them,” said Howard.

The school system has released two statements regarding the incident. EBR Schools’ first statement on Sept. 21 said:

“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.”

EBR Schools

A second statement released by the school system on Sept. 27 said:

“The East Baton Rouge Parish School System aims to provide an inclusive, safe, supportive environment where students can express themselves without fear of unfair treatment. Bullying of any kind is not tolerated.

The School System agreed to work with 29:11 Academy for the purpose of providing a College and Career Day with supporting activities to EBR high school seniors. The event was held on September 20, 2022.

District leadership was unaware of any religious aspects of this event. District leadership did not approve any deviation from the planned schedule. The School System has received complaints following the event. The School System is taking these community concerns seriously and conducting appropriate follow up.

Our focus will continue to be student-centric as we review processes and work to enrich the lives of our students.”

EBR Schools

According to the Day of Nope GoFundMe, they are raising money to take legal action against the school system.