Should Students Be Kept in Cages? New Orleans Charter School seems to Think So!

by Joanna

Wow… it seems like McDonogh City Park Academy in New Orleans is teaching its students…. to become prisoners! A mother in New Orleans recently complained that her 14 year old, who was being disciplined for stepping out of the lunch line, was forced to stay in an area resembling a prison cell (or a cage) for 30 minutes.

A local mother is mad about what she’s calling cruel and unusual punishment at her son’s Charter School.

Latreshia Davis says school leaders at McDonogh City Park Academy routinely lock students inside a cage; as a form of discipline.

“I sent him to school to get an education,” said parent Latreshia Davis.

Davis does not mind the burglar bars outside McDonogh City Park Academy; but she is angry about the fenced-off area inside, used to discipline students.”To me it looks like a jail or a cage for an animal,” Davis said. SOURCEThe children in this school are put in the corner of a room that is blocked off by mesh fencing. The gate reaches from the floor to the ceiling, and the area is totally empty. It bears a striking resemblance to a prison cell. The eighth grader told his mother that he was serving in school suspension, and that he and other children were put in the cage and left alone. A staff member occasionally came back to “check up” on the kids. His mother is not happy about the negative message it is sending her son… that he belongs in a cell like a prisoner or in a cage like an animal.

Davis acknowledged that her son has discipline problems, but she said she is willing to work with the school to resolve them, and she was shocked to see where he was placed.”This speaks in volumes to me,” Davis said. “It puts things in the kids’ minds saying, ‘You are not worth anything or it’s OK to be behind bars or locked up in a cage.’ It’s so many things, and it hurts my heart because I would not lock my own child in a cage, so I don’t appreciate someone else doing it.” SOURCE
The school is managed by the New Orleans Charter Schools Foundation and falls under the Recovery School District umbrella. The head of the Charter school board denied the characterization of the area as a “cage”:

“It is true that the room is equipped with a mesh fence, because it was formerly used as an equipment room. At the present time, the gate to the fence is not and cannot be locked. The students were under the supervision of one of our teachers, who was present throughout the entire seven minutes that the students were in the room.” SOURCE
It seems to me like this school, which educates primarily Black children, is sending the unspoken message that Black children need to be locked up for discipline. Now, seeing as how the jails and prisons in this country are filled with a disproportionate number of young Black men, is this really the message that we want Black children to receive while they are supposed to be getting an education? That it is “normal” to be put in a cage or a prison cell for even minor behavioral transgressions?

I remember being sent to in school suspension as a high school kid. We were in a room, closed off from the rest of the student, with a teacher present at all times. We were expected to be silent and work on our school work. But, there were not bars or fences keeping us in the area. It was discipline, but we were treated with dignity. Keeping children in an area like this is disrespectful of the humanity of these children. It send out the message “Well, you better get used to being locked up, because this is where you are going to end up”. I do not think that is an appropriate image to convey to children who society ALREADY expects to fail.

School should be about educating and uplifting children, not about treating as a prisoner or an animal. Frankly, I believe that this charter school’s methodology is extremely flawed, and if I were a parent, I would seriously consider removing my child from this environment if at all possible!