10,000 signatures reached
To: Sophie B. Wright School
Demand that Sophie B. Wright School end the overly harsh punishment of Black students
This campaign has ended.
We demand that Sophie B. Wright School end the overly harsh punishment of Black students and allow seniors to walk for graduation.
Why is this important?
Around 30 students were given 5-day suspensions from Sophie B. Wright Charter School in New Orleans after a senior prank water fight. In addition to being suspended, these students have had all senior privileges revoked, including: walking for graduation, senior prom, senior picnic, and their last day of school. Sophie B. Wright also threatened them with civil and legal action. Our Voice Nuestra Voz (OVNV) began working with parents quickly and discovered that the disciplinary punishment outlined in the school handbook did not match the given punishment, and that the suspension appeal hearing notices contained 2 key violations of Open Meetings Law. Through notifying Sophie B. Wright of these violations and organizing parents we were able to win the revocation of the suspensions. Unfortunately, these students had already served their 5 days. The other punishments, including being barred from the graduation ceremony, remain in place because according to school leadership these punishments are not eligible for an appeals hearing.
The fact that parents were able to get the suspensions rescinded indicates that Sophie B. Wright knew that the punishments were overly harsh and unfair and would not hold up to scrutiny. Knowing this, all of the other punishments, including being barred from their own graduation ceremony, should also be rescinded.
Public support for these students continues to grow with statements demanding justice from the New Orleans City Council and the New Orleans Mayor’s Office.
Sophie B. Wright has a history of harshly punishing students rather than employing restorative practices. In just this school year, the school has recommended 78 children for expulsion. Total enrollment of the school is only 530 children, meaning almost 15% of students have been recommended for expulsion. The total expulsion rate of the city is less than 1%.
These heavy handed punishments perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. Black children on average face harsher penalties than their peers. This escalation in punishment for children celebrating their upcoming graduation mimics the practices used in our criminal justice system. Instead of obsessing over the harsh punishment of Black children, we should be using this opportunity for child development and restorative practices. Sophie B. Wright’s draconian punishments revoking graduation rights deny these children an important moment in their and their families lives. We demand that Sophie B. Wright rescind these unjust punishments and publicly commit to employing restorative practices from now on.
In addition to this petition you can let Sophie B. Wright know you stand with these students and restorative practices by emailing their principal and charter director, Sharon Clark, at email@example.com.
Take Action Now to Get Justice for Our Black Students in New Orleans!