12-year-old American arrested for doodling on desk
Sat, 20 Feb 2010 10:54:21 GMT
12-year-old Alexa Gonzales was arrested for doodling on her desk with
A 12-year-old girl from New York has been handcuffed and arrested by
the police for doodling on the classroom desk, an incident that has
shaken the US education system to its core.
Alexa Gonzales, a seventh grader at the Junior High School in Forest
Hills, had written the words "I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex
was here 2/1/10 :)" on the classroom desk with a green marker when the
school principal decided to have her arrested by the New York Police.
Consequently, Alexa’s hands was cuffed behind her back while she was
escorted from school to the police precinct across the street in front
of her teachers and her classmates.
"They put the handcuffs on me, and I couldn’t believe it," Alexa told
CNN. "I didn’t want them to see me being handcuffed, thinking I’m a
Alexa missed three days of school because of the psychological ordeal
she faced. Her mother said she spent those days throwing up, and she
found it difficult to catch up on homework when she eventually
returned to school.
The case has cast a dark shadow over the use of so-called zero
tolerance policies adopted in schools in the US.
Zero tolerance policies in US schools have been the subject of heated
debate in the past few months with some critics saying that schools
and police have a tendency to overreact in punishing students involved
in nonviolent offenses such as drawing on desks, writing on other
school property or talking back to teachers.
"We are arresting them at younger and younger ages [in cases] that
used to be covered with a trip to the principal’s office, not sending
children to jail," said Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the
Children’s Defense Fund, a national children’s advocacy group.
Broad zero tolerance policies have reportedly caused serious problems,
namely, the denial of education, rise in dropout rates, increased rate
of suspensions and expulsions, and racially biased impact.
New York attorney Joe Rosenthal, who is representing Alexa, has
decided to sue officials at the school and the police, claiming they
have violated Alexa’s constitutional rights.
Meanwhile, the New York City Department of Education officials refused
to comment on the event.
"Our mission is to make sure that public schools are a safe and
supportive environment for all students," said Margie Feinberg, an
education department spokeswoman.