The school to prison pipeline is an issue all too familiar to students in Wake County, N.C. Normally when a student cuts in a lunch line, you’d expect to hear about them being sent to the back of the line or a visit to the guidance counselor. But in Wake County, N.C, you could actually end up being handcuffed.

On Wednesday, a 74 page complaint against the local school district and law-enforcement agencies was filed with the U.S. Department of Justice.  A a coalition of civil- and children’s-rights groups representing eight students alleges that the district has failed to take meaningful steps to “stem the tide of students being pushed out of school and into juvenile and criminal court systems.”

From The Huffington Post:


The students listed in the complaint include “T.S.”, a 15-year-old black student described as introverted and mild-mannered. His problems with school authorities began after he cut in line at lunch one day and drew the attention of a security officer, who grabbed his arm. When T.S. tried to pull away, the officer twisted his arm behind his back, pushed him over a 4-foot dividing wall, and led him out of the cafeteria in handcuffs, the complaint said.

T.S. was suspended for three days. When he returned to school, some fellow students assaulted him, knocking him to the ground and jumping on him, for reasons that aren’t explained in the complaint. The same officer who had handcuffed him three days earlier then pepper-sprayed his face. T.S. was handcuffed again, and ordered to appear in juvenile court and spend nine months on probation.

In another alleged incident, a 15-year-old black student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder punched a student who had hit him and used a racial slur against him, the complaint said. He was sent to juvenile court, where he agreed to a plea deal that resulted in six months of probation, 24 hours of community service, and a juvenile delinquency record.
“It’s becoming part of the school culture,” said Jennifer Story, an attorney with Advocates for Children’s Services, one of the groups that filed the complaint. “In one case, a parent didn’t even know that her son had been handcuffed until we told her about it. The student was like, ‘It just happens all the time.’”

A spokesperson for the school system said they’re still reviewing the complaint. But the representatives for the Raleigh Police Department and the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, whose officers routinely act as the school’s security, said they have not seen the complaint.

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  • Anthony

    I see a few things happening here. I wonder how active black parents are in PTA and other organizations? Authorities will treat your children better if you show your face before things go wrong. Many schools now use police and security because they have faced so many lawsuits over discipline. The result is criminalization of what should be child’s issue like fighting or cutting line. I for one, think kids fighting is natural. It should not be treated as assault unless things really get out of hand. The final and most obvious thing going on here is simple racism. Blacks kids are never kids in the minds of racists and uncle toms, they are always “thugs.”

    • AnnT

      Are schools required to have local PTA by federal law? Schools and districts who have a prison to pipeline system can do so because of the lack of the initial parental involvement. Since the PTA is a non-profit org., I’m not sure if undeserved areas has the adequate funding to successfully retain an active PTA. I agree with your statement, but programs like the PTA, Arts&Crafts, Music, and Physical Education are the first thing to be cut from the budgets.

    • Anthony

      @AnnT, we have to learn to value our children. We do not have to be well off to be active, and attend school functions and meetings. We cannot wait until out kids get in trouble to show up. Being active sends the message we give a damn, and it does make a great difference in how our children are treated.

    • AnnT

      Very true. I just don’t know how that works. I don’t have kids. I see it from the end of were the laws are created. It a very slow systematic erosion. I just know that the resources that were there are not anymore and people who never had them don’t have the same opportunities to attain them. Not an excuse, just an observation.

    • @AnnT

      PTAs are optional and yes, the poorer schools tend to lack a PTA due to lack of parental involvement. I actually was a member of the PTA, but they didn’t want to hear any of my ideas of suggestions. I’ve volunteered, and honestly, all my son received was bullying (it was mandatory volunteering at a charter school). The perpetrators of the bullying were the same students who had failed the fifth grade reading test (young black and hispanic children). PTAs are little more than a fundraising mechanism that can provide some good alternatives for school activities, but I yet to see a PTA make substantial changes in the rules governing the treatment of certain children.

      Yes, if we value our children, we will be involved. But I would warn any parent, being involved often gives certain types of teachers the motivation to pick and pick and pick until they fracture the child. Removing the child and homeschooling or having “all black” schools where students are taught by all black faculty who are knowledgeable and care (like it was before Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education), is the only way we can win this war

  • Why is someone getting beat up and handcuff for skipping in a lunch line?
    What happen to the white student in the second incident. If the black boy was arrested for assualt so should the white boy?

    WHy was the boy jumped by a group of teens after coming back to school for suspension? Then pepperspray again for a fight he didn’t start.

    It shocks me for some reason how school can still be unfair racial wise when it comes to punishment even when they have a large staff of black employees.

  • Shirl

    Wow…I’m speechless.

  • Sometimes people are angered by my posts because they often differ from the expected responses. However, I believe there is no one who responds to this post who should be angered by the idea that we, as black mothers and fathers, need to take our children out of these “mini prisons called public schools” and homeschool. Not only is this allowed in all state constitutions, the material necessary to start your child(ren) on the pathway to success is as easy as going to your local library, local bookstore, local community college, and this wonderful thing we call the Internet to find other parents as a support. I refused to get involved with the “homeschool group and cooperative programs” in Oklahoma because it is all based on the same premise as the public institution.

    Single moms can homeschool- is it difficult yes, but it can be done. Since many black single moms do have family, a grandmother, mother, aunt, or someone close to them, or a private in home daycare provider, who could care for the child during the normal work hours, run with that. Check online sources for free materials for your child’s age, ability, and grade (they do not always line up as one in the same). Look for people who build curriculum and who could tailor that curriculum to your child (ren)’s needs and talents.

    Two parent homes are at an advantage, even if both parents work; parents who have degrees have the best foundation because no one is going to say that you are not capable of educating your own child (ren). I’m not here to promote anything but the best for our people…and getting them out of the system is the best thing we can do!