Protesters allege abusive treatment at 3 RSD schools - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Protesters allege abusive treatment at 3 RSD schools

Nearly two dozen students and parents protested at the Recovery School District offices Tuesday, saying students are treated inhumanely and three schools – including Carver Prep –have expulsion rates up to seven times higher than the state average.

They gathered on Poydras Street to demand change.

"The disciplinary policies that come out of this institution are horrific," said Carver alumnus The Rev. Willie Calhoun.

Parents and students say Carver Prep, Carver Academy and SCI Academy have rules that are often abusive.

"I felt like I was in a prison setting where you had to walk on line and shake hands, and if you didn't shake hands with a firm grip, you got in trouble," said Carver student Jarrell Johnson.

They say school administrators are particularly insensitive to students with disabilities.

"By him having autism, he's not verbal and he couldn't take it anymore," said Katie Jones, whose grandson is a student. "And he came in and told me that he would be suspended because he wouldn't shake the teacher's hand."

The net result, parents say, are suspension rates much higher than the state average at the three schools operated by the chartering organization Collegiate Academies. A civil rights complaint filed with the U.S. education secretary, the U.S. attorney general and others alleges that Carver Collegiate suspended 69 percent of its students in a single year.

"That seems like a very high number," said Sara Voight, with the Advocacy Center.

The complaint alleges that two of the schools often suspended students by isolating them in a room by themselves for an entire day for minor infractions like wearing the wrong type of belt or wearing jewelry.

"We're in high school," said student Russell Robinson. "We have to walk on lines like we in kindergarten."

The RSD says it's just now hearing about the complaints and officials promise to work with stakeholders to try and improve the situation. The RSD superintendent was out of town.'

"I will definitely pass this on to the superintendent,"said Nash Crews, with the RSD.

The complaint alleges that a lack of teacher training and cultural sensitivity are at the root of the problem. The Advocacy Center urges any parent - especially those with special needs children - to complete an individual student evaluation that outlines an educational program.

If there are variations, such as those alleged today, the Advocacy Center said it can often be addressed through a formal process.

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