School discipline a focus at Wake schools forum
Posted February 3, 2014
Updated February 4, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — School discipline was the topic du jour at Wake County Public Schools System’s latest “direct line” forum Monday night.
One mother said an officer put her daughter in the hospital after she tried to avoid a fight.
“There was a police officer who slammed my daughter to the concrete and my daughter had a concussion,” Chilove Chuy said.
Markyona Patrick, a Broughton High School student, said she was suspended for what she described as a small infraction.
“I wanted to do English instead of my math work, and my teacher kept telling me to do my math work, so I got suspended for a day,” she said. “And that is really, really silly.”
School employees, parents and the public are invited to forums around the county to voice their ideas and concerns about the district to school leaders, including school superintendent Jim Merrill.
Monday’s meeting was at Southeast Raleigh High School, where one former student is part of a federal complaint filed in January alleging that the district’s school policing policies and practices “unnecessarily and unlawfully punish and criminalize minor misbehaviors and disproportionately harm African-American students and students with disabilities."
The U.S. Department of Justice has received the complaint and is determining whether to look into the matter.
“Get some control over the really out of control policing in our schools,” said parent Bridgette Burge during the forum.
Some students, including Markyona, made their case using a number written on a cake.
“14,184 is the total number of out of school suspensions from 2011 to 2012,” she said.
School officials have reduced suspensions for minor infractions and increased alternative offerings for disabled students, said School Board Chairman Christine Kushner, who added there are plans to have conversations with deputies and officers who work in schools.
“Many of them are very dedicated to our students, keeping them safe,” she said. “So I think some concerns raised are things we need to follow up on, talk with various law enforcement agencies on how we can do better.”
The last forum is on Feb. 17 at Wakefield High School.
Speakers may begin signing up on-site at 4 p.m. each day in the lobby of the school auditorium. Each speaker is allotted three minutes and one appearance at the direct line events. School employees speak from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Parents and the public speak from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.