CARY: Support for jailed Wake Co. teen shown at school board - WRBL

Support for jailed Wake Co. teen shown at school board meeting

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CARY, N.C. -

A senior at Southeast Raleigh High School has been in jail since March 7 after being arrested for fighting on school property. Parents, students, and her peers spoke out Tuesday, saying the punishment was too harsh.

Supporters of Selina Marie Garcia spoke in front of the Wake County School Board in solidarity voicing their concerns with the way some high schools are disciplining their students through School Resource Officers.

Qusima Wideman is a senior at Cary High school, and along with her peers, she stood in front of the School Board during public comment to voice her frustrations.

"She is a 17-year-old girl in jail," she said.

Garcia charged March 7 with assault and battery, Raleigh police said. 

The group protesting is from NC Heat and according to their Facebook page they are a "multicultural group of youth seeking a common purpose: civil rights, human rights, and justice in our communities and our public schools."

Fellow NC Heat member Tavon Bridges from Knightdale High said Garcia is a good person and he is "devastated."

Markyona Patrick, another NC Heat member said, "People are criminalizing her. She's not a bad person and I know where she's coming from. It kind of hit home with me because I've been criminalized, and I'm not a criminal whatsoever."

The Wake County School System said they could not comment on this case because of federal student privacy laws.

But WNCN learned that Garcia has had a history with the law, and this is her fifth time charged in Wake County.

NC Heat released this statement to WNCN about the situation:

"On March 7 2014 Selina Garcia, a senior at Southeast Raleigh high school was suspended from school because of allegations that she committed level II infractions at school - "physical aggression/fighting" and "class/activity disturbance." Her administrator suspended her for 5 days, noting that there were lots of mitigating factors present, including prolonged and explicit harassment by the other student involved in the incident. However, the SRO at school decided that this wasn't enough - said that she needed to "learn a lesson," and so he arrested her and took her to jail. He made this determination despite the fact that she posed NO safety threat to the school environment.

The officer made the conscious choice to criminalize her despite knowing how much trauma she had already been through in her life - that she'd experienced more horrific violence in her 17 short years than he'd likely seen in his entire career; that she'd been bounced between more foster care and DSS placements than anyone keep track; that, after being transitioned to four different high schools in two year due to her placement changes, she just wanted to focus on graduating this Spring, and needed to be in school to accomplish that goal none of that mattered to him - all that mattered was asserting his dominance and "teaching her a lesson"

"Jail isn't going slow me down nor stop me. They think its going break me but I am still going on." Said Selina in a letter written to NC HEAT "In here I am no longer Selina Marie Garcia. I am #34! Not a human being but a caged animal with the number

 She has now been incarcerated for 12 full days as a result of that officer's choice

  • ·         For 12 days, she has been dehumanized, stripped of all sense of pride or dignity
  • ·         For 12 days, no one has called her by her name - they simply call her #34
  • ·         For 12 days, she has slept in a cage on a hard metallic bed with a paper-thin mattress, no pillow, and a blanket that smells like metal and rust
  • ·         For 12 days, she has worn a striped jumpsuit, told when and what she can eat, when she can shower, when she can sleep - treated as nothing more than a caged animal
  • ·         For 12 days, she has lived among adult women who are drugged into oblivion so that they can be "controlled," striving to keep herself together so that she doesn't have to be similarly medicated
  • ·         For 12 days, she has been forbidden to listen to music - which has been her only constant solace through a lifetime of trauma and transitions.  So she copes by singing to herself and anyone who will listen, earning the nickname "Pandora" from her fellow cell-mates
  • ·         For 12 days, she has been the only high school female in a jail that isn't equipped for students, sitting in an empty "classroom" on only 2 occasions without computer access for her online gradpoint classes, falling farther and farther behind

In addition in Selina letter to NC HEAT she stated, "Broadcast everything go to the news and see if they can get it live on TV. I trust you with my story and to let it be heard. Write me and keep me updated on everything that's going on"

When the SRO arrested her, he likely thought that she would go to jail for a couple hours and then be picked up by her family.  But, 12 days later, there's no end in sight for her:

  • ·         When you're in foster care, no one HAS to come pick you up, even when there's no bail to pay.
  • ·         When you're in foster care, an arrest can cause you to get kicked out of the closest thing to a home you have, leaving your future even more uncertain
  • ·         When you're in foster care, an arrest can make you lose scholarship grants from DSS that would provide you with your only real option to go to college

She has faced all of these repercussions based only on allegations of level II misconduct at school.  Yet neither the SRO nor the school officials who have subjected her to these punishments face any repercussions for their actions.  She is out of sight out of mind for them. This experience has not and WILL NOT break her.  She is stronger than you can imagine, and will come out on top.  But her story will not be kept silent, and we will not let you keep your eyes closed to what is really happening to students who are pushed out of school and into prisons."

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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