Students draw attention to Wake Schools disciplinary policies

Some students showed up at a school board meeting wearing prison suits and handcuffs.
March 19, 2014 3:00:24 AM PDT
Wake County high school students sent a powerful message to school board members Tuesday evening.

Students have criticized school disciplinary policies in the past, but, now, they were advocating for a classmate in jail.

Some students showed up wearing prison suits and handcuffs.

"In Wake County, black students make up 25 percent of the student body, and over 60 percent of suspensions," said Cary High School student Qasima Wideman.

About a half dozen with the student advocate group NC HEAT  used the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting to blast what they call the system's school-to-prison pipeline.

"You're just constantly, constantly trying to be pushed out of school," said Knightdale High School student Tavon Bridges. "Whether it be in jail, or you just sitting at home not doing any work."

They claim zero-tolerance policies involving minor incidents lead to arrests, juvenile detention referrals and jail. That's the case with their friend Selina Garcia.

Excerpts from a letter the southeast Raleigh senior wrote behind bars read, "I slept in a cage, on a hard metallic bed, with a paper thin mattress."

Garcia remains in jail 12 days after she allegedly got into a fight on a school bus with another student.

"I just want to see change. This is getting ridiculous," said Broughton High School student Markyona Patrick.

NC HEAT said the system should hire more counselors, not more resource officers and put a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions.

"We've been taking many steps to both recognize the data that's in Wake County which is concerning and I think the board also has taken a lot of steps to improve our discipline policies," said Wake School Board Chair Christine Kushner.

Wake County Schools recently adopted a five level infraction system with five being the highest level. Garcia is accused of a level two violation

She was set to graduate this spring, but her arrest now puts that in jeopardy.

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