Saturday, August 13, 2016

South Carolina schools often criminalize black students. The ACLU is fighting back. - Vox

South Carolina schools often criminalize black students. The ACLU is fighting back. - Vox:

South Carolina schools often criminalize black students. The ACLU is fighting back.

As America’s criminal justice system became more punitive over the past few decades, so did school discipline. In fact, school discipline became so harsh that it became tied to the criminal justice system — getting students sent to jail for infractions that may have gotten them detention before.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Thursday announced that it’s suing South Carolina to fight laws that fuel this "school-to-prison pipeline." According to the ACLU,the "disturbing schools" law "allows students in school to be criminally charged for typical adolescent behaviors including loitering, cursing, or undefined ‘obnoxious’ actions on school grounds." The organization is also going after a vague "disorderly conduct" law, which "prohibits students from conducting themselves in a ‘disorderly or boisterous manner.’"
The ACLU found that these laws have been used on hundreds of students — some as young as 7 years old. And black students are nearly four times as likely to be targeted under the law.
These laws came under some public scrutiny last year when a police officer at Spring Valley High School was fired after he brutally arrested a black student. Richard County Sheriff Leon Lott questioned at the time whether the deputy should have been called into the classroom at all: "I think that's one of the problems that we've got. If we have a child that's not following the rules, deputies are getting called in to handle that. And that's really not our role in the school. And I think sometimes the teachers and administrators should be handling things like this."
One of the students involved in the ACLU lawsuit witnessed and tried to protest the brutal arrest in Spring Valley High School. She was then arrested. The ACLU explained:
Plaintiff Niya Kenny, 18, is a former student at Spring Valley High School in Columbia. As a student last October, she witnessed a violent, headline-grabbing altercationin her classroom when a school resource officer flipped a classmate over in her desk and dragged her across the room.
Kenny, who is African-American, spoke up against the officer’s actions, recounting, "I was in disbelief and I started praying out loud. I said, ‘Isn’t anyone going to help her?’" Kenny was in turn arrested and hauled off to a detention center.

How South Carolina’s "disturbing schools" law works

The "disturbing schools" law is incredibly vague — students can be charged for "acting in an obnoxious manner" at school. It carries a hefty punishment: a fine of up to $1,000 or 

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