UPDATE: Cy-Fair ISD graduates plan June 27 protest for racial justice

From left: Sydney Deramus and Hana Maung attend a protest organized by Katy ISD students before launching Cy-Fair for Black Lives. (Courtesy Sydney Deramus)
From left: Sydney Deramus and Hana Maung attend a protest organized by Katy ISD students before launching Cy-Fair for Black Lives. (Courtesy Sydney Deramus)

From left: Sydney Deramus and Hana Maung attend a protest organized by Katy ISD students before launching Cy-Fair for Black Lives. (Courtesy Sydney Deramus)

Updated June 24 at 12:45 p.m.

Cy-Fair for Black Lives plans to hold a peaceful protest Saturday, June 27, from 5-8 p.m. at Katy Park, 24927 Morton Road, Katy. Organizers are still seeking donations of water and personal protective equipment for the event.

Originally posted June 16 at 12:53 p.m.

Ten days after graduating from Langham Creek High School, Sydney Deramus spoke to Cy-Fair ISD’s board of trustees at a June 11 meeting about her disappointment in the lack of conversation about racial justice in Cy-Fair.

“I am here today because I am sick and tired of my community remaining silent on the constant racial injustices happening in this country,” she said at the meeting. “I urge you all to listen to your black students’ pain. I urge you all to stand with the black community at this time—not just today but every day.”


Deramus continued to tell board members she and fellow graduate Hana Maung attended a peaceful protest organized by Katy ISD students in early June and that she would like to hold a similar event at the Berry Center. She told Community Impact Newspaper her efforts to coordinate an event at the district's venue were met with restrictions from officials, including a limited route for the march and limitations on speeches.

As protests for racial justice take place across the country in the aftermath of highly publicized instances of police brutality against black Americans, Deramus and Maung launched a Facebook page called Cy-Fair for Black Lives and online petition June 5 urging the Cy-Fair community to speak up against racial injustices.

Deramus said her vision for the peaceful protest includes a socially distanced march, a time for black individuals to share their experiences, and eight minutes and 45 seconds of silence in honor of George Floyd, the black man who died after former Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

If Berry Center officials do not loosen restrictions for the event, Deramus said she would seek an alternate location for the protest she hopes to hold this weekend. As of 11 a.m. on June 16, more than 1,320 individuals had signed her petition, and more than $500 had been raised through GoFundMe for snacks, water and masks for the protest.

Deramus had attended CFISD since eighth grade and said as a black student, she did not see equal opportunity for her peers. She said she had supportive teachers throughout her time in the district, but she would like to see the administration invest more resources in students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and socioeconomic situations.

For instance, Deramus said in her Advanced Placement and dual-credit courses, her fellow classmates were disproportionately white.

“I just hated being the only black person or [being able to] count all the kids of color on one hand,” she said in a June 15 phone interview.

Black students in CFISD had an 89.8% graduation rate in 2018, compared to nearly 96% for their white peers, according to district data.

Superintendent Mark Henry announced at the same June 11 meeting that a new committee will evaluate the equity of academic opportunity, representation in hiring and student discipline measures. He shared his own thoughts on current events in a statement the prior week.

This committee, led by Chief of Employee and Student Services Deborah Stewart, will compile an equity audit and identify problems that needed to be addressed, Henry said.

“It’s not that these have not been board goals, and it’s not that we haven’t addressed them,” he said. “I just think it’s important that the community see that we’re serious about addressing these inequities in our organization.”

In 2018-19, black students made up 18.6% of the district but accounted for 38.7% of in-school and out-of-school suspensions, according to data from the Texas Education Agency. That same year, 66% of teachers were white despite only 24% of CFISD’s students being white.

Deramus said she supports the concept of the committee and hopes to see plenty of people of color represented in the group.

Board President Bob Covey tasked trustees Julie Hinaman, Gilbert Sarabia and John Ogletree with composing a statement declaring the district’s commitment to addressing racial inequities before school returns in August.

“I was raised basically in a small west Texas town, and back in those days African-Americans had their own schools; they didn’t come to school with us,” Covey said. “In my life I’ve seen that change ... [but] there’s still underlying situations that someone like me can overlook.”

Ogletree, the only black member of the board, said he would like to see the district’s police department mentioned in the statement, considering the ongoing national conversation regarding police brutality.

“I think since the George Floyd murder did spur this nationwide movement, we should in any statement [that] we abhor prejudice and hatred ... also say a word about our policing procedure—the way our police are expected to engage and interface with students or parents,” Ogletree said.
By Danica Lloyd
Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a Cy-Fair reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a journalism degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She became editor of the Cy-Fair edition in March 2020 and continues to cover education, local government, business, demographic trends, real estate development and nonprofits.


MOST RECENT

Shirts23, a wholesale blank and custom T-shirt retailer, is slated to open a storefront Jan. 25 at 8805 Jones Road, Ste. A105, Jersey Village. (Courtesy Facebook)
Shirts23 opening Jan. 25 on Jones Road in Cy-Fair

Shirts23, a wholesale blank and custom T-shirt retailer, is slated to open a storefront Jan. 25 at 8805 Jones Road, Ste. A105, Jersey Village.

If approved, the Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District could take on all future dredging in Lake Houston. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
To-be-filed bill could fund dredging in Lake Houston by charging additional surface water fee

The conservation and reclamation district would have the power to take out bonds to fund projects. The bonds would be paid through a fee charged to utility providers who purchase surface water from Lake Houston.

Metta's Local Eats exceeded its $10,000 goal in their most recent fundraiser. (Courtesy David Postma, Genesis Photographers)
Social media group inspires local restaurateurs to raise more than $27,000 for Cy-Fair Helping Hands

The Metta's Local Eats Dine Out for Charity fundraiser put the local nonprofit closer to its goal of a future expansion, officials said.

COVID-19 vaccines
DATA: Texas has vaccinated about 9% of estimated Phase 1 recipients

Over 1.1 million individuals from the Phase 1 population, which is estimated to include 13.5 million individuals total, have received at least one dose.

Bob Popinski, policy director of Raise Your Hand Texas, shared the organization's top education priorities for the ongoing legislative session. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
‘What does virtual learning and remote learning look like moving forward?': Raise Your Hand Texas policy director talks legislative priorities

Bob Popinski is the director of policy for Raise Your Hand Texas, an Austin-based organization committed to improving public education. He spoke with Community Impact Newspaper in late December about the 87th legislative session, which began Jan. 12.

More than 1,200 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Cy-Fair ISD. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Nearly 300 new COVID-19 cases reported in Cy-Fair ISD schools Jan. 11-17

COVID-19 case numbers in the district increased by 63% over the previous week.

Bayou City Art Festival Downtown is scheduled to return in person in October. (Courtesy Katya Horner/Bayou City Art Festival)
Bayou City Art Festival scheduled for in-person return in October

The Memorial Park version of the festival will be celebrated through alternative virtual and smaller in-person events.

Owner Miguel Segovia took over the Jones Road location of Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano in 2007. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano: Owner carries on legacy of Cy-Fair staple

The beauty of Italian food—according to Miguel Segovia, who has been running Luigi’s Ristorante Italiano on Jones Road since 2007—is in the sauce.

At a Jan. 15 emergency court hearing, officials came up with a plan to try to reduce the inmate population at the Harris County Jail that centers on hosting more bail reduction hearings. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
With open beds dwindling, officials look for ways to reduce Harris County jail population

The inmate population at the Harris County Jail is rising, and officials are looking for ways to quickly ease the pressure as concerns grow over the ability to quarantine and restrict the spread of the coronavirus.

Bocca Italian Kitchen serves seasonal, Italian-inspired dishes, such as polenta and various pastas. (Courtesy Marco Torres)
Italian eateries open in Generation Park; Houston bike lane fines enforced and more local news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Officials said Beacon Hill will help spur future growth in the city of Waller and in the surrounding area. (Rendering courtesy Wolff Companies)
Wolff Companies acquires additional 43 acres for Beacon Hill development in Waller

Plans for the 564-acre project include a business park along the future Hwy. 290 frontage road and about 870 single-family homes.

Officials expect demand for the vaccine will be huge once it opens to the general public. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Montgomery County plans vaccine distribution; FDA warns of false negatives and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular stories from the past week from the Houston area.