My name is Yugonda Sample-Jones and I am a candidate for the Newport News School Board. I am originally from the Eastern Shore of Virginia and have lived with my family in Newport News, VA for the last 12 years. I am married and the proud mother to four children, three of whom attended Newport News Public Schools.

In 2014, motivated by the belief that “it takes a village to raise a child,” I founded the mentoring program “Royals”, where I work to expose young women to positive experiences, encourage them to be their best selves and engage the young ladies in civic awareness, learning how to change their narrative into action.

After my son was suspended from school in an unfortunate bullying experience, I was introduced to the suspension policies and their effect on the School to Prison Pipeline. For example, did you know that test scores of our 3rd graders are are being used to project the number of prison cells needed in the future? I developed an interest in local politics and began to gather research to prove that black/minority students are suspended at a rate 6 times higher than white students within our school system. In the 2014-15 school year, black males made up 53.6% of the population and were suspended 77.76%, while white males make up 25.7% of the population and were suspended 10.2%. In 2016-17, 53.2% of our students are black and being assigned to short term suspension at 78.3%, while white students make up 24.6% of our population and are suspended 10.4%. It has also been stated by a current school board member that most of the suspensions for black male students is done by white female teachers. This is a problem!! 

In 2017, Carver Elementary (the elementary school in my district) ranked worse than 98.2% of elementary schools in Virginia. It also ranked 21st among 23 ranked elementary schools in the Newport News City Public Schools District. In comparison, Deer Park Elementary (also a Newport News City Public School) ranked better than 98.1% of elementary schools in Virginia. It also ranked first among 23 ranked elementary schools in the Newport News City Public Schools District! How can we explain the egregious disparity and inequity in two schools within the same district? 

Newport News Public Schools is the ninth largest school district in Virginia, and while 54% of NNPS students are black/minority, the administration and faculty of our schools do not reflect the diverse ethnic groups in our population. While, NNPS has very effective and hard working teachers and staff, I feel the current board is not attracting truly dedicated, experienced teachers, who are willing to work with our students instead of kicking them out of class. 

Also, NNPS does not actively search for community, grassroots organizations to work with and within our schools. Offering wrap around services, especially in our high & middle schools will help to grow our students holistically. There is 1 community based male mentoring group offered in 2 high schools which are not in the district where it's needed. We have even had amazing local organizations offer to work with students on campus, only to be turned away! We need to provide culturally responsive positive behavior intervention support. It's only with a holistic approach that we can lower the number of students suspended short term for disorderly or disruptive behavior offenses -- 85,250 in the 2016-17 school year alone. 

There are a lot of issues that NNPS faces, and the school to prison pipeline is just one of them. If elected to the Newport News School Board, I will work tirelessly to advocate for our students, champion racial equity on our campuses, and ensure that we are actively recruiting and attracting talented and diverse teachers for our classrooms. Ultimately, I work for all children and their families by extending awareness, advocacy, encouragement, knowledge and hope for generations to come.


Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • endorsed

    “Yugonda has been a tireless advocate for the voiceless in her community for years. She is keenly aware of how the decisions the school board is making (or not making) can be the difference in life trajectory of children all throughout Newport News. In a time when everyone wants to focus on federal issues and what's coming out of D.C., Yugonda understands that our local school boards and county/city boards are they real drivers of change, and she seeks to be that change. The school-to-prison pipeline is nothing new, and Yugonda is already working to divert at-risk youth away from that pipeline. Electing her to the school board will give her even more resources to continue that mission.”

  • endorsed

    “I'm proud to endorse Yugonda because all our children have the right to a better future, and Yugonda will lead the fight for that better future!”

  • endorsed

    “I believe in Yugonda possibly more than I’ve ever believed in anyone I’ve ever met. Her passion and efforts and humanity and sincerity and spirit inspire me so much. I have absolutely no doubt that she will be a force for good in Newport News and all of Virginia.”

  • endorsed

    “I endorse Yugonda because she’s an authentic, engaging leader. The youth of Newport News will be well served through her leadership.”

  • endorsed

    “Yugonda is the kind of authentic leader we need. She's not doing this to raise her own profile or to run for higher office. She's been passionately devoted to making our school systems better and improving children's lives for many years!”

  • endorsed

    “I support Yugonda for Newport News School Board because I believe all of our students deserve opportunities for equitable education. I know Yugonda will be a powerful, progressive messenger and champion for change in the Newport News education community.”

  • endorsed

    “I'm a witness to Yugonda's tireless, passionate, committed, and diligent work in our community. It's not just the children she cares for, it's our community, the holistic approach to problem solving that inspires and demands personal involvement. New voice, new advocate, new possibilities, that's Yugonda our future representative on the Newport News school board.”

Campaign created!

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • endorsed

    “Yugonda has been a tireless advocate for the voiceless in her community for years. She is keenly aware of how the decisions the school board is making (or not making) can be the difference in life trajectory of children all throughout Newport News. In a time when everyone wants to focus on federal issues and what's coming out of D.C., Yugonda understands that our local school boards and county/city boards are they real drivers of change, and she seeks to be that change. The school-to-prison pipeline is nothing new, and Yugonda is already working to divert at-risk youth away from that pipeline. Electing her to the school board will give her even more resources to continue that mission.”

  • endorsed

  • endorsed

  • endorsed

    “I'm proud to endorse Yugonda because all our children have the right to a better future, and Yugonda will lead the fight for that better future!”

  • endorsed

    “I believe in Yugonda possibly more than I’ve ever believed in anyone I’ve ever met. Her passion and efforts and humanity and sincerity and spirit inspire me so much. I have absolutely no doubt that she will be a force for good in Newport News and all of Virginia.”

  • endorsed

    “I endorse Yugonda because she’s an authentic, engaging leader. The youth of Newport News will be well served through her leadership.”

  • endorsed

    “Yugonda is the kind of authentic leader we need. She's not doing this to raise her own profile or to run for higher office. She's been passionately devoted to making our school systems better and improving children's lives for many years!”

  • endorsed

    “I support Yugonda for Newport News School Board because I believe all of our students deserve opportunities for equitable education. I know Yugonda will be a powerful, progressive messenger and champion for change in the Newport News education community.”

  • endorsed

    “I'm a witness to Yugonda's tireless, passionate, committed, and diligent work in our community. It's not just the children she cares for, it's our community, the holistic approach to problem solving that inspires and demands personal involvement. New voice, new advocate, new possibilities, that's Yugonda our future representative on the Newport News school board.”