Civil rights activists joined a Monterey Trail High School student’s relatives in their protest of his arrest following an altercation at his school.
They told the Elk Grove school board on Feb. 4 that he was mistreated by law enforcement officers and he spent four days in juvenile hall. His parents and grandmother said that authorities refused to tell them why he was arrested after the Jan. 27 incident. He was not allowed to speak with his father at campus after he was placed into a patrol car, they said.
Ophelia Howard, the student’s grandmother, described the treatment of him as a kidnapping.
“I’m just really saddened and broken that this happened to my grandson,” she said.
The family members and activists spoke to the school board during their meeting’s public comment period. Trustees are not allowed to take action during that time.
Over the past few years, members of the activist group The Village frequently spoke to the school board about the disciplinary treatment of African American students at the district’s schools.
“We warned you that we did not want to be here about this again,” Village member Allegra Taylor emotionally told the school board on Feb. 4.
Tension arose when Board President Beth Albiani told her, “you have all of our attention.” Taylor then accused the trustee of trying to correct her.
“Until you walk in the shoes of black people and until you feel our trauma and our pain repeatedly over and over, being disregarded for what it is we give to you, and then you think you can correct me?” Taylor said. “No, you can’t.”
The activist threatened to call for an African American student boycott of Elk Grove Unified’s schools.
On Jan. 27, Monterey Trail High School officials received a report about two students fighting. District spokesperson Xanthi Pinkerton told the Citizen that one student sustained minor injuries and received medical care.
“Law enforcement was called to assist and after a review of evidence that was provided to both school officials and law enforcement, necessary action was taken,” she said.
The student’s parents condemned how law enforcement handled the situation. His father, Raschad Howard told the school board that neither officers nor a vice principal would explain to him why his son was arrested when he arrived at the school to pick him up after class. He mentioned that an officer drove his son in a patrol car to another part of campus and “pretty much hid him from me.”
The student’s mother, Tinesha Turner told the school board that she has another son who experienced racial discrimination from a teacher at Monterey Trail High.
“I will not let this happen again or to anyone else’s child,” the pregnant mother said while Taylor and activist Lorreen Pryor stood with her. “The racism and how people are being treated is unfair.”
In 2018, the school board approved reforms to their district’s student discipline policy after an elementary school principal protested the staff treatment of her son at Cosumnes Oaks High.
Under the reforms, school administrators, not law enforcement, are asked to investigate student behavior problems.
The school staff must also notify a student’s parent if they want to get law enforcement involved in a discipline case. They can contact law enforcement if a student commits a violent act, threatens violence, or brings a weapon to school.
Village members like Pryor were involved in creating the reforms in 2018. She confronted the school board on Feb. 4 after she heard about the Monterey Trail High incident.
She said that she investigated the case and she heard that a visiting security specialist contacted the police about the student altercation. Pryor said the specialist taunted and threatened the student.
She stressed that parents need to be notified about their children when law enforcement gets involved.
“We hammered out policies so that things like this wouldn’t happen,” Pryor said about the district’s discipline reforms.