ACLU issues statement about Greenville teacher who dragged student by hair

GREENVILLE, Miss. (WJTV) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has issued a statement about the incident involving a Greenville teacher who dragged a student across the floor by pulling her hair.

The statement below was given by Jennifer Riley-Collins, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi.

“We are deeply disturbed by a video that shows a Greenville High School teacher dragging an African American female student, who is disabled, by the hair across the floor. Unfortunately, we know that this is not an isolated incident, particularly for children who are African-American and disabled.

“Students with disabilities are six times as likely to be physically restrained and mistreated at school, compared to non-disabled students. Students of color with disabilities are twice as likely to be secluded or restrained.

“According to recent data compiled and released by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, and the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) for the 2013-2014 school year, at least 60 school districts in Mississippi use restraint and seclusion techniques on children with and without disabilities. Consequently, 1,912 incidents of restraint and/or seclusion were reported for the same period. This figure represents close to a 600-percent increase in the number of reported incidents in Mississippi since the 2009-2010 school year. The number of reported incidents are likely a direct result of our public awareness campaign “Keep Mississippi Students Safe”.  Two years ago, many people refused to believe or acknowledge that these hurtful practices were occurring in our state.  We still feel, it is likely that many other incidents were unreported.

“The ACLU of MS and other community partners have asked the state of Mississippi for three years to pass legislation restricting the use of restraint and seclusion inside of our schools. This spring, the Mississippi Department of Education agreed with our advocacy efforts to keep all students safe by adopting Rule 38.13 Restraint and Seclusion. The rule prohibits the use of excessive force or cruel and unusual punishment regarding student management, and supports a framework for decision-making that guides the implementation of data collection and evaluation, training, and evidence-based academic and behavioral practices. Furthermore, the policy restricts the use of restraint and/or seclusion as a punitive measure or as a means of punishment, but rather only in emergency situations where there is eminent threat of danger or serious bodily injury. However, a policy without proper implementation and accountability is useless.

“We are hopeful and confident that Greenville school officials, community leaders and the community at-large will take appropriate action, but this is a larger issue across the state. Mississippi must do more to ensure protection of our children. It is incumbent on state leaders, the education community, and all of us to strategically align policy with best practices that protect the rights of all children, create a positive school climate, and achieve a level of excellence so that our students can be successful citizens. It’s past time for Mississippi to keep our students safe.



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