Judge: Sophie B. Wright Students Have Right to Participate in Graduation
A preliminary injunction requested by the Southern Poverty Law Center to allow students to participate in today's Sophie B. Wright Charter School's high school graduation was granted this morning by Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Christopher Bruno. The following statement is by Victor M. Jones, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC:
“All too often, students are excluded from their classrooms, schools, and important life events because of harsh and unfair school discipline practices. To combat those kinds of practices, we asked the court in New Orleans to issue an injunction to allow a group of students from Sophie B. Wright Charter School to participate in their high school graduation—an injunction that was granted this morning. The court’s decision is a welcome reprieve from the kinds of widespread and arbitrary school discipline practices that violate students’ due process rights. Even though the order was issued too late to let these brave students walk this morning, we could not sit by and not try while the students and their families missed a once-in-a-lifetime event without having been given the opportunity to explain what happened, and ignoring the cost of that punishment to their lives and futures.
“These kinds of due process violations are still too frequent in New Orleans and across this country. They harm all children, but students of color and students with disabilities are disproportionately the victims of these punitive, unjust practices. Fortunately, the court decided to put students first, granting them the right to walk alongside their peers at today’s graduation ceremony. Though they missed this morning, they know they had a right to be there. In the future, it is our hope that issues such as this do not require court intervention and that everyone in the education community will make decisions to protect students’ rights, not violate them.”