Guilty of ASWB–Attending School While Black in Jefferson Parish Lousiana

10-year old girl with autism handcuffed on ground face down in Louisana
Source: SPLC







OK, there’s no such legal offense, but you wouldn’t know it from what happens in Jefferson Parish schools according to a request by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) that the U.S. Justice Department investigate the system. SPLC’s original complaint in 2012 resulted in a U.S. Department of Education investigation–

“into the disproportionate number of African-American students arrested for minor rule violations in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Public School System, the problem has worsened, the SPLC told federal authorities this week.”

Recently, a 10-year old girl with autism wound up handcuffed on the ground with the knee of a police officer in her back. An eighth grader was hauled away in cuffs and spent 8 days in juvenile detention for throwing Skittles in class.

Something seems very wrong with this public school system when, instead of customary in-school discipline by teachers and administrators the police are used to aggressively over-enforce rule violations by students. The SPLC report says this about the system:

 Jefferson Parish stands out in Louisiana as the school district with, far and away, the most school-based arrests and law enforcement referrals. The overwhelming majority of these arrests are for nonviolent, minor student misbehavior. African-American students are disproportionately targeted.

The supplemental complaint describes how 80 percent of the district’s school-based arrests during the 2013-14 school year were African-American students – even though they are only 41.5 percent of the student population. When the SPLC filed its initial complaint in 2012, African-American students comprised 76 percent of school-based arrests despite being 46 percent of the student population.