Last week, Care2.com reported on a Mississippi School that was routinely handcuffing students as punishment for minor misbehavior. A petition, demanding that Jackson Public Schools stop this horribly inappropriate punishment, received over 12,000 signatures. Monday, former Capital City Alternative School student Anthony Willis and his mother Jacqueline Willis presented the petition to the Jackson Public School Board.
Students at the Capital City Alternative School were allegedly handcuffed for minor issues like not wearing a belt or greeting a friend too loudly in the hallway. Jody Owens, from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mississippi office was quoted by AlterNet as saying: “Not only does this handcuffing policy violate the U.S. Constitution but it demonstrates a diseased school culture and a broken model of school discipline that focuses on criminalizing students at the expense of educating them.”
The petition and the stories of the abuse these students suffered were jointly shared and promoted by national advocacy organizations Care2.com and Alternet.org. According to Emily Logan, Care2 Online Campaigner, Care2 is “proud to partner with Alternet.org on this important issue.”
Jacqueline Willis, the mother of one of the affected students, noted that “concerned people from across the nation are calling on the JPS school board to protect our students from brutal shackling.” She also expressed her hope that the “school board will take immediate action and protect our students from further abuse.”
In addition to the petition, the Southern Poverty Law Center has also filed a federal class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed after the school district refused to respond to a letter asking it to stop the practice of shackling students for hours at a time to poles and railings.
The school board apparently did not comment on the petition during the open portion of the meeting, but they did have a closed session scheduled to talk about the lawsuit. According to the Clarion Ledger, the district has to file a response to the lawsuit within 21 days of it being filed. They have not yet filed that response. Others, such as attendee John Garner, feel that school administrators “should be identifying these problems long before they become (lawsuits)” (source: Clarion Ledger).
Photo credit: Jed Oppenheim, Southern Poverty Law Center