Fighting the School to Prison Pipeline in Shorewood

According the the ACLU:

The school-to-prison pipeline refers to the national trend of criminalizing, rather than educating, our nation’s children. The pipeline encompasses the growing use of zero-tolerance discipline, school-based arrests, disciplinary alternative schools, and secured detention to marginalize our most at-risk youth and deny them access to education. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline. African-American students are far more likely than their white peers to be suspended, expelled, or arrested for the same kind of conduct at school. There is no evidence that students of color misbehave to a greater degree than white students. They are, however, punished more severely, often for behaviors that are less serious.

One example of the over use, or misuse of legal action when dealing with student behavior of young Adam Hernandez, a 15 year old student of Shorewood High School. This story should be of particular interest to the readers of the Milwaukee Drum as many parents in the hopes of creating better educational opportunities for their children have followed the trend of pulling their children out of Milwaukee Public Schools and sending them to schools in other districts such as Shorewood. The following text has been pulled from an email being circulated on behalf of the family by The Educators Network For Social Justice. It is a call to action for the community to send a message that we will not allow our children of color to be continuously over-represented in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.

On March 30th, Adam, a freshman at Shorewood High School, was given chicken nuggets by another student who was fasting and did not want them. Adam went to the lunch line to get sauce for the nuggets and was accused of stealing them. The assistant principal, Mark Harris, was notified of the “theft” of the chicken nuggets. Before approaching Adam to “investigate,” Harris informed the Shorewood police officer stationed at the school, who requested another police squad to intervene. Adam, who has no prior criminal history or Shorewood School District disciplinary history, was handcuffed and arrested at school during lunch. He was booked, fingerprinted and issued a citation for theft which states “defendant took and consumed a school lunch without paying and without consent.”

Though Shorewood High School assistant principal Mark Harris notified the police about the “theft of Shorewood school lunch,” the police are pressing the charges and not the school. Shorewood High School administrators and Shorewood superintendent McCann have stated that this matter does not involve the school and they will NOT be making any recommendation for dismissal of the charges. Despite Shorewood School District’s ostensibly “hands-off approach,” Shorewood High School assistant principal Mark Harris attended Adam’s pre-trial hearing, spoke with the prosecutor and allegedly insisted that Adam is guilty, resulting in the continued prosecution of Adam for theft of school lunch chicken nuggets valued at $2.60.

Adam will stand trial for theft charges next Tuesday, July 20th at the Shorewood Village Hall, 3930 N. Murray Ave.

A rally of support for Adam will occur before the trial on Tuesday, July 20th. The rally begins at 4:30pm and the trial begins at 5:30pm. Please join Adam’s family and community members to voice support for Adam and to encourage the Shorewood School District not to abandon its children by pipelining them into the criminal justice system. The school to prison pipeline must be broken.

Adam Hernandez
Educators’ Network for Social Justice is co-sponsoring a rally in support of a Shorewood High School Student and as the beginning of our efforts against the school to prison pipeline in area schools. Details follow:
When: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 4:30pm
Where: Shorewood Village Hall, 3930 N. Murray Ave in Shorewood

The rally is co-sponsored by Urban Underground

For more information about The ACLU and The School to Prison Pipeline.

For more information about Urban Underground and it’s youth programing.

For more information about the Educators’ Network for Social Justice.