Sunday, May 17, 2015

Southern Poverty Law Center Finds Black Students are Heavily Criminalized by Louisiana's Jefferson Parish Public School System

A recent report by The Southern Poverty Law Center on Louisiana's  Jefferson Parish Public Schools revealed a school system hell-bent on criminalizing black students.The report substantiates claims by civil rights activists, and observers that there is a school to prison pipeline channel present that targets young black students.

Even after being called out about strong arm criminality responses to minor rule infractions by students JPPS continue to operate a school arrest policy that discriminated against African American students. In fact, JPPS doubled down on what they were doing.

Although making up only 41.5% of the student population in Jefferson Parish, African American students comprised a shocking 80% of all school-based arrests and referrals to law enforcement during the 2013-14 school year.

For my readers that doubt intent of schools like JPPS to criminalize students read this excerpt from a complaint lodged against the school by some students caught in it's biased web.

"In January 2012, four African American students in Jefferson Parish filed a Complaint to
OCR’s Dallas Office on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated students in JPPSS who
have been victimized by JPPSS’s discriminatory district-wide school arrest policies and practices.

The Complaint highlighted the fact that JPPSS contracts with local municipalities to assign full and
part-time law enforcement officers to Jefferson Parish middle and high schools. The officers, acting
as agents of the school district, have been given the unfettered authority to stop, frisk, detain,
question, search, and arrest schoolchildren on and off school grounds while they are on duty, without clear guidelines and limitations on what constitutes a school disciplinary issue versus those matters that need to be handled by the police and juvenile court system."  

It should come as no surprise that Jefferson Parish has the highest numbers of school-based arrests and referrals to law enforcement in Louisiana. The majority of law enforcement involved infractions are incidents that could and should be handled by the school system and the applicable Student Code of Conduct guidelines.

For instance, there was an arrest earlier this year, of an eighth grader for throwing Skittles on the school bus. That student was detained for six days. It's reported that the arresting officer threatened the child as he was walking the handcuffed child out of the school.

Vocativ reports:

As the officer led the handcuffed teenager out of the school, both students and faculty heard him threaten to “beat the f*** out of [the boy],” or to have his son, who is about the same age, do it for him. The student, who is African-American, spent six days in a juvenile detention facility before seeing a judge, whose first comment was: “Am I to get this right? Are we really here about Skittles?

Skittles and black kids don't end well.

The school system has acknowledged they have a problem via a statement they issued.

“We are aware of and are very concerned by these allegations,” the statement reads. “We pledge to work closely with those agencies involved to quickly resolve any issues that we identify. We are committed to ensuring that our students have a safe, healthy environment and are treated equably at all schools.”

If you view the report take a look at page 8. You'll see a breakdown of why students were arrested. One the reasons is "Student in need of Supervision". Arresting a student in need of supervision sounds like "another reason to get black students in the criminal justice system". A student in need of supervision requires a call to the parents to come and handle. I would think at its worst the officer would take the kid home and not to jail. There is also a category labeled 'Ungovernable Juvenile". I don't even know what that is. I do know it sounds like something a parent should be involved in and not a police officer.

It's important to pay attention to the approach our educational institutions are taking toward our children. More and more of them seem to be getting in the criminal justice business and less in the educational business. The recent crop of black Atlanta educators that received jail sentences for their participation in a cheating scandal indicates to me a doubling down on blacks by education systems when it comes to purging the system of blacks while feeding the jails with them.

Jefferson Parish is not alone when it comes to contributing to the school to prison pipeline. If your student's school has bars on the windows, uniformed police in the halls, and metal detectors at the entrance -you might want to question why your child's school has taken on a prison ambiance.  Don't wait until you're called to pick up your child from jail because he or she threw skittles - at that point they are already in a system that they may very well never let them out.

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