500 signatures reached
To: Recovery School District (RSD), New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), All New Orleans Schools
End School-Sanctioned Violence Against Children, Parents and Communities
Sponsored by Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) and the Coalition for Community Schools.
On September 30, 2015, a 10-year-old was arrested at school, put in handcuffs, and thrown in the back of a police car because he had a bad day. This is a child who has a disability and an Individualized Education Plan, and was arrested because of that very disability. A child, who while being physically restrained by a para-educator, kicked her, and instead of receiving counseling by a trained professional, was arrested and taken to a detention center for hours for having a mental health crisis. A student whose mother was traumatized while she had to explain to her son why he was arrested unfairly. Why would his school do that to him? Why would the police do that to him? He didn’t understand, neither did his mother, but she had to hold back tears and tell her son it was not his fault. She had to because she could not tell her son that people do not see little black boys as children.
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, DEMAND:
1. RESPONSIBILITY - We call on the Recovery School District (RSD) to:
• Create a centralized division of responsibilities between our city’s charter schools and law enforcement.
• Clearly articulate when cops should and should not be called into schools, restricting their involvement to only the most serious incidents and to be used only as a last resort.
• Clearly articulate schools’ responsibilities for addressing school discipline-related incidents, including through the use of positive approaches, such as restorative practices and positive behavior supports.
2. PROCEDURES - We call on the Recovery School District (RSD) to:
• Ensure that clear procedures exist to enforce this division of responsibilities.
• Devise a plan for the proper law enforcement response, to be used only as a last resort, when schools call asking for assistance with students experiencing mental health crises.
3. TRAINING - We call on the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) to commit to training officers assigned to respond to school-initiated calls in areas of youth development, de-escalation techniques, mental health awareness (autism, ADHD, children experiencing mental health crisis), and proper School Resource Officer conduct.
4. SUPPORT - We call on all of our city’s schools to pay paraprofessionals $15-$20 an hour and to provide them with quality pre-service and ongoing training.
Why is this important?
We wish this story was an isolated incident, but it is not. It’s one of many other stories of children who find themselves the victim of the school to prison pipeline. A system that will arrest children because they had a bad day. Children who may or may not have a disability. Children who may have lost a family member, a friend, or someone in the community. Children who may have recently become homeless, or had a parent or sibling incarcerated.
Poor black and brown children are the ones who most frequently are targeted by this pipeline, thanks to the racism and classism that is a widespread part of our society. Nationwide African-American children represent 26% of juvenile arrests and 44% of youth who are detained. Taxpayers spend an estimated $70 billion on corrections and incarceration, yet over half of the children who are incarcerated are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.
This call to action demands that:
Our schools treat every child, every family, and every community with dignity and respect.
Our children should not be arrested or made to leave school for things that all children go through.
Our teachers and paraprofessionals who educate our most vulnerable populations should not be given the lowest pay and inadequate training. The average paraprofessional salary in Louisiana was $19,970 per year in May 2014, which ranked 46th of the 50 states. By comparison, in 2012, at least 45 New Orleans charter school executives made more than $100,000 a year.
Our parents should not be subjected to economic abuse and hardship, from charging $60-$80 for school uniforms, to causing parents to lose their jobs, their incomes, and their livelihoods when they are frequently called to school for minor misbehaviors.