Earlier this month, 12-year-old Alexa Gonzalez was arrested – and actually removed from school in handcuffs – because she was caught doodling on her desk.
Back when I was in middle school, drawing on desks was frowned upon. I got caught doing it a few times, and was made to pay the price: washing my desk. I think once I actually got detention and had to wash a bunch of desks.
Now the New York City schools are arresting students for it?
Using an erasable lime-green marker, Alexa wrote, “I love my friends Abby and Faith” on her desk while waiting for a teacher to pass out homework. “Lex was here, 2/1/10″ she added.
Not only was Alexa arrested, but while the police eventually said the arrest should never have happened, she still had to appear in family court. She was assigned 8 hours of community service and has to write an essay on what she’s learned from this experience.
She was also suspended from school. Not that she was in a hurry to go back. Her mother reports she’s been throwing up, sleeping poorly and generally being traumatized. Prior to this, Alexa had a stellar attendance record.
I for one would love to read that essay, and hope it has to more to do with how schools and police can abuse power than it does with any trite realization that drawing on your desk is Bad.
I’m appalled that this girl is being punished by the court system for drawing her desk. It’s been a long time since I was a middle-schooler, but it’s hard to believe the system has degenerated as much as it obviously has. Teachers, not cops, used to be the authority in the classroom.
I know there are real security concerns that can require a police presence in schools. Drugs, gangs and violence are sadly real issues that kids in middle schools are often confronted with, and on campus police can be lifesaving in those situations.
But there should be much clearer boundaries about which school rules the cops enforce and which ones the teachers do. Drawing on your desk with an erasable marker should never be a crime.
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