by: Kathaleena Edward Monds, Ph.D. (originally published October 9, 2020 in Engage by EdChoice)
In May 2020, amid the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial unrest spurred by the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, a less-reported story was playing out in Michigan, where Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, a White female, sentenced a 15-year Black girl to Oakland County’s Children’s Village, a juvenile detention facility, for failing to complete her compulsory online homework.
In August, police were called to the home of a 12-year Black boy in Colorado; the boy was suspended for five days for playing with a toy Nerf gun during a virtual art class.
These two cases represent high-profile cases of children whose lives have been interrupted due to school disciplinary practices, the policies and practices that each year catapult countless nameless, faceless children into traumatic disciplinary scenarios arising from experiences in America’s compulsory schools that could foreseeably impact them for a lifetime must be stopped.
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