Could anything like this be the background for what happened to Ja'eisha Scott at Fairmount Park Elementary School? As Marian Douglas has been saying, Ja'eisha's case and the large number of related incidents ought to be international HUMAN RIGHTS scandals.
Treazure And Erskine: Victims Of Troubled Discipline In Our Schools?
by Tracie Reddick
The Weekly Challenger
ST. PETERSBURG - Janice Arthur was not surprised by a videotape depicting a 5-year-old student at Fairmount Elementary School being arrested and handcuffed by police officers (emphasis added).
''Black kids are mistreated every day in Pinellas County schools,’’ she said (emphasis added).
Arthur recently filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Education against educators at Tyrone Elementary School, who she says routinely harass her grandchildren, Treazure Kitchen and Erskine Cross. She has a stack of referrals to back the allegations she cited that included:
• Both Treazure and Erskine were accused by Tyrone administrators of stealing. School officials referred the incident to the state attorney's office, which has recommended she attend a Juvenile Arbitrition Program. Arthur does not want her to become part of the criminal justice system.
• Treazure being suspended for choking a classmate, although she denied the incident. The victim recently confessed Treazure was merely hugging her but she was told by a teacher to say Treazure choked her (emphasis added).
• Children being allowed to hit Treazure, but when she retaliates, she is the only one disciplined. Last week, she was hit in the head with a rock (emphasis added).
• A teacher using profanity in the classroom.
• Administrators allegedly telling Treazure to enroll in another school.
• Erskine, who has cerebal palsy, being forced to wear wet clothes all day after being caught in a downpour while walking from one building to another during a recent rainstorm.
• Erskin being forced to participate in a regular physical education class where he is made to run laps despite notes from his physician stating it is causing discomfort and pain in his legs.
• A teacher calling Erskine a monkey in front of his classmates (emphasis added).
Arthur has relied on a cadre of community leaders to accompany her or make calls on her behalf in this case. They include NAACP Director Darryl Rouson, Retired Educator Adelle Jemison, Rev. Preston Leonard and Rev. Alvin Miller and KINFOLKS, an agency that advocates for black children in foster care and kinship care arrangements.
''They say they want black parents to get more involved in the schools and that's what I'm doing,’’ Arthur said ''But, it's like I'm being punished because I am questioning the way they are treating my grandchildren'' (empasis added).
Not so, said Area III Superintendent Michael Bissette, who does not believe Arthur’s grandchildren are being targeted by Tyrone teachers. ''They are not all bad people,’’ he said. ''Teachers don’t choose a career in education to pick on kids.’’
Nevertheless, Bissette noted preliminary investigations into Arthur’s allegations revealed a Tyrone teacher admitting to calling Erskine a monkey (emphasis added). He has since been disciplined, along with another teacher who used profanity in the classroom.
''It was not the worse of swear words,’’ said Bissette, noting the other incidents outlined by Arthur are under investigation.
Meanwhile, a breakdown in communication between Arthur and Tyrone officials is evident, Bissette said. ''It’s not working and we have to figure out how to fix it,’’ he said.
Part of the problem could be that Arthur no longer trusts Tyrone teachers and is relying too much on what her grandchildren are saying, Bissette explained.
On the flipside, there is a top administrator at Tyrone who is determined ''to teach these kids how to behave,’’ and she has been asked to remove herself from the discipline equation, he said (emphasis added).
On a recent visit to Tyrone, Bissette observed Erskine in the classroom. Other than being fidgety, the boy was not disruptive, he said.
Arthur explained Erskine’s leg brace causes his leg to cramp and she has asked teachers to allow him to stretch, but they want him to remain seated.
Texas A&M Professor Gwendolyn Webb-Johnson raised a similar point during a recent conference at the University of South Florida focusing on the black family and child.
''Our kids are socialized to be vibrant,’’ said Webb-Johnson. ''They are taught from a young age to move and shake. But when they go to school they are told to shut up, sit down and don’t move.’’
Webb-Johnson stated black children are victims of racial profiling in the classroom and schools need to adopt a ''culturally responsible pedagory’’ (emphasis added).
''It’s different teaching Moesha, Tameka, Pokey and Boo-boo,’’ added AME Bishop Vashti McKenzie. ''You cannot develop the same game plan for Pokey as you do for Myrum, Hyrum and William and Byrum. You have to take our kids from where they are before you take them to where you want them to go.’’
That’s all Arthur wants for her grandchildren Although Bissette believes it may be in her grandchildren’s best interest to enroll them at a different school, Arthur believes they have a right to remain at Tyrone.
''Treazure is a strong girl,’’ Arthur concluded. ''She may be the one that can stand there and take it so that other people can see how black kids are being mistreated at Tyrone.''