If you are a faithful follower of Indy K 12, you know that I work Tindley Accelerated School. If you are from Indianapolis, you are pretty familiar with Tindley and our discipline policy and the historical numbers of our suspension data. In my writing, I have always been transparent that I believe in the model of Tindley, but I also come to the understanding that some policies we have are outdated.
Lately, I have been considering our current discipline policy as something that needs to be addressed. We do have some policies where the consequences do not match the infraction or the consequence for certain infractions are too strict. I believe the discipline of a kindergartener should be different than the discipline of a sixth-grader.
I told myself that I would never call the police at school on a child because of their behavior because I previously taught at a school that would arrest students for fighting or for “disorderly conduct.” The school I worked at was a high school. These students were above the age of fifteen, and it wasn’t right for them, so I could not imagine calling the police on a six-year-old.
I came across this disturbing article about what Florida school staff did to a six-year-old little girl; she was committed to a mental health facility without parental consent. The police were called on a kindergartener, who appear to be of color according to photographs. According to the article, the school had the little girl committed for two days in a mental health facility for throwing a temper tantrum. She threw a damn temper tantrum.
I have a daughter, so this broke my heart from a parent’s perspective. I also lead a school with kindergarteners, who sometimes act out, so this also broke my heart from a school leader perspective. I do not understand how a school can call the police on a six-year-old. Let alone call the police on a six-year-old and have her committed without the consent of the parent. In Florida, there is a law called the Bakers Act, which gives schools and the social workers the power to initiate involuntary holds on children. Yes, the little girl does suffer ADHD, but you committing her without the consent of her parent is not the answer. That tells me the relationship between parents and school staff is broken.
Kindergarteners throw temper tantrums. That is what little people do at times. For some children, during their temper tantrums, they will throw things or become unsafe. Despite this, committing the child is not the answer.
It is incidents like this that have me excited about an event I am hosting Saturday, March 7, 2020. The event is a movie showing of Pushout, based on the best-selling book. Something is happening in our schools where black girls are criminalized. It is time we have the conversation, and it is time we talk about it.