Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file
Some parents are calling on CCSD to revise its discipline policies after at least two recent altercations resulted in students’ arrest and, in one case, a child being pepper-sprayed.
Mokah-Jasmine Johnson, president of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, told the school board earlier this month that her daughter had been suspended and charged with disorderly conduct. Her daughter snapped after being bullied by other students, she said, and no one did anything about it beforehand even though she had warned the school counselor.
Johnson hosted a “school-to-prison pipeline” meeting at the ACC Library last week, where a woman only identified as “Ms. Jackson” spoke about how her daughter was arrested and booked into jail after a fight. Footage of the actual fight was not released due to privacy laws, but security-camera video of the aftermath shows a girl backing away toward a door, and a police officer pursuing her and then spraying something in her face. The officer’s body camera was not turned on at the time. After being sprayed, the girl was taken to jail, where she spent several hours. She is epileptic and had multiple seizures that night, her mother said.
Jackson said that when she met with police and administrators, she called the officer a “coward,” and the officer told her she is “retarded.” Jackson said that the officer had a longstanding dislike for her daughter. She also wondered why the other girl in the fight was allowed to turn herself in. Other parents in the room, however, defended the officer and said her actions were out of character.
Johnson said the point was not to berate a particular officer or to remove officers from schools, but to get the school district to re-examine its policies. “I’m not defending any altercation, but people need to understand, an officer can arrest your child, any child,” she said, and children should not have a criminal record because they got into a fight at school.
Concerned parents also took some sort of action at Whit Davis Elementary School last week, where one said discipline is “spiraling out of control.” Flagpole received several reports that parents were demanding that a second-grader who had exhibited “dangerous behavior” be removed from the classroom. However, sources would not speak further on the record.
Superintendent Demond Means has previously held town hall meetings on discipline at Whit Davis, Gaines Elementary and Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary.