Youth advocate: Student arrested over science project highlights school to prison pipeline

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 23:17 EDT
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On MSNBC Wednesday night, a youth advocate explained how the recent arrest of a 16-year-old girl over a science experiment highlighted the so-called school to prison pipeline.

Kharry Lazarre-White of The Brotherhood/Sister Sol said the line between a disciplinary infraction and a crime had become blurred in many U.S. schools.

“It’s become blurred, one, because now you have police officers in schools,” he told MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “So, you have police officers responding to issues that used to be that teachers or school safety officers responded to. Secondly, you now see this broad range of issues that would have never been seen as something to arrest a child. We have children expelled for singing too loudly in classes, for running through the hallway, for being late, but one of the most striking aspects of this is that the number one issue that you see leading towards this kind of expulsion is children who are refusing to respond to authority, children who are, quote, being defiant.”

“And when you start looking at that kind of language and especially when the disproportionate number of young people being expelled are black children in this country and you put those two issues together, you see a racial narrative, which is extremely disturbing, that black children are seeking to be controlled in a very particular way, and the result of that is a high level of suspension that’s leading to young people being put out of school, not graduating from high school, and then that has a clear determinate in terms of a life of poverty.”

Sixteen–year-old Kiera Wilmot was recently arrested, charged with a felony, and expelled from her Florida school over what she described as a science experiment. The young African American girl had mixed some household items together in a water bottle. Her experiment resulted in an small explosion, which harmed no one and didn’t damage any school property.

Bartow High School officials have admitted Wilmot did not intend any harm and that she was a model student, but have stood by their decision to expel her citing their policies.

Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below:

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Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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