Activists hold press conference ahead of school board discussion of policy 5120

Leaders to consider updating policy that impacts students' rights at school
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 9:23 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Among the many controversial issues on the agenda Tuesday night to be discussed by the New Hanover County School Board was the district’s relationship with law enforcement.

Policy 5120 would lay out how students are questioned or searched by law enforcement and if a child’s parents would have to be there. Board members passed it on to second reading Tuesday night.

Black Lives Matter and New Hanover County Educational Justice met at the 1898 Memorial Tuesday afternoon to share their concerns with the proposed policy’s wording before leaders vote on it.

The main concern they have is that the way the policy is written now gives investigators the option not to call a child parents.

Both groups share the same worry that kids don’t always fully understand whats going on or what their rights are.

Advocates say it puts special needs students and minority students at a higher risk of serious consequences that can hurt their future, like getting suspended, physically restrained, even arrested.

Another element leaders were frustrated about was that this policy was recently altered without public input.

The copy that was discussed this summer in the policy committee in June was different than what was put before the board. The revised policy and the memorandum of understanding between the district and law enforcement it references weren’t made available to the public until right before the school board meeting last week.

Leaders at today’s press conference agree the updated wording is still too ambiguous and doesn’t protect the rights of New Hanover County students.

“This policy has to be changed and the parents should be present with law-enforcement talk to their children even if it’s a witness or interrogation any form or fashion they should be there and I want people to understand that we have to sign up for children and be the voice for our children,” said Black Lives Matter Organizer Sonya Patrick.

Policy 5120 passed first reading Tuesday night, however it wont be going into effect yet, however, the policy will move forward to second reading at the next regular board meeting.

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