Skip to comments.Uproar Over Texas Teen's Imprisonment (Mother Claims Racism)
Posted on 03/28/2007 3:42:24 AM PDT by SkyPilot
DALLAS (AP) - A teenager has been jailed for more than a year for shoving a teacher's aide at her high school, a case that has sparked anger and heightened racial tensions in rural East Texas.
Shaquandra Cotton, who is black, claims the teacher's aide pushed her first and would not let her enter school before the morning bell in 2005. A jury convicted the 15-year-old girl in March 2006 on a felony count of shoving a public servant, who was not seriously injured.
The girl is in the Ron Jackson Correctional Complex in Brownwood, about 300 miles from her home in Paris. The facility is part of an embattled juvenile system that is the subject of state and federal investigations into allegations that staff members physically and sexually abused inmates.
Under the sentence handed down by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville, she will remain at the facility until she meets state rehabilitation standards or reaches her 21st birthday.
But her family and civil rights activists say they want her home now. They are condemning the sentence as unusually harsh and say it shows a justice system that punishes young offenders differently, depending on their race.
Creola Cotton, Shaquandra's mother, and activists argue that while Superville sent Shaquandra to the state's juvenile prison system, he gave a white 14-year-old arsonist probation.
As many as 400 people marched and rallied in Paris on Tuesday, the second such protest in as many weeks by civil rights groups.
Meanwhile, the Paris school district fiercely denied claims of racism and chided the girl's mother for "playing a game" to start controversy.
Creola Cotton says her daughter received an unjust punishment for pushing the Paris High School employee. Her complaints have prompted federal civil rights investigations into the school district.
"My daughter has been (at Brownwood) a year now," Creola Cotton said. "It's time for her to come home."
In an interview with The Paris News, Superville said he chose the sentence because witnesses testified that placing Shaquandra back in her mother's care was not the best decision.
"If Shaquandra had been white, the outcome would have been the same," Superville said. "My decision was based on facts and law, and I am confident this was the correct decision based on the facts I was presented."
About 41 percent of students are black in Paris, a city of about 26,000 just south of the Oklahoma border. Fewer than 10 percent of the district's teachers are black, according to the most recent audit by the Texas Education Agency.
Dennis Eichelbaum, an attorney for the Paris school district, said the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has vindicated the district by finding no evidence of discrimination in three cases. Five other investigations remain open.
Creola Cotton is preventing the district from fairly defending itself by refusing to let the school district make her daughter's entire record public, Eichelbaum said.
"Mrs. Cotton has been wrongfully attacking the character of the district," Eichelbaum said. "She's being disingenuous with regard to her daughter being an innocent child."
Added Eichelbaum: "She's playing a game."
Prosecutors say they offered Shaquandra a plea agreement that would have reduced the felony charge to a misdemeanor and given her two years' probation. But Creola Cotton rejected the plea on behalf of her daughter, prosecutors said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education said the agency handled nearly 1,000 discrimination complaints last year.
Show me a bad kid, and 90% of the time I can show you a bad parent.
Why didn't they just kick her out of school?
How many white individuals claimed "discrimination"????
When laws are put in place to identify protected classes, this will ALWAYS be the result (discrimination lawsuits).
Of the Lawyers, By the lawyers, FOR the lawyers is what the U.S. "Justice" system has become....
The mother has a record of causing problems at the school, the daughter has a history of problems at the school, and the judge had no choice in the sentencing after the mother rejected the deal. She then started stirring up the blacks in the city against the DA.
Does this mean they should hire more black teachers because so many of the students are black? Could it not mean that not enough blacks are getting/have the education to be teachers? And what does it have to do with what happened with this student?
It sounds liike she thought she should be able to get in the school, regardless of when the bell rings. Some black students think anytime they are corrected for poor behavior that it is because they are black, not because they are not behaving as they should.
Is that worse than shoving a peon?
A principal has to document everything the student has done wrong. What she has done has to be bad enough to merit expulsion by state standards. It's just not that easy.
and Craola? Geeze I am from East Texas originally. Where do they get this stuff?
Assault is consisdered bad enough here.
Shaquandra and Creola Cotton?
considered....bad spelling however is not.
So the poor little black girls mother doesn't get her way so she just resorts to playing the worn out race card to get her way instead. Uh-huh! Worked for O.J. didn't it!
a felony count of shoving a public servant
Is that worse than shoving a peon?
First it was Police and the Judiciary then medical personell it has now been expanded to public servants..
The list of special classes of people grows and like the little snot with a hall monitor badge they taunt the lessor beings making stuff up ever more boldly.
One law for all the people or no law at all.
Prior to the 70's, she wouldn't have been allowed to even attend that school. Then she could have cried about "racism".
In jail until she's 21 possibly? For shoving someone who wasn't injured? That's ridiculous. Expulsion used to be the punishment for something like this, not hard time.
What is this girl, a border patrol agent or something?
No matter what the situation? I think it's safe to assume there is an extensive prior criminal record here. The punishment doesn't read like a first offense.
When it comes to the media or law enforcement, I think nothing is safe to assume.
The pix of this child indicates *GangBanger*.
She was convicted by a jury not the media or law enforcement.
Like Scooter Libby.
something tells me that we're not being given the hwole picture here. kinda like we're being programmed to feel outrage at the system.
my guess is that the kid probably had other issues that contributed.
... has been punished more than enough, surely, simply by being forced to lug the absurd non-name "Shaquandra" around with her for the rest of her life.
That name is why they gave her a year.
LOL! No kidding.
Shoving a teacher (with no serious harm to her) and arson....hmmmm.
Even if the arsonist just lit some paper on fire in the yard (there are no details, it could have been inside the building) I still think both crimes are at about the same level of stupidity. Maybe the arson is a bit worse.
Why was the 16 year old punished so much more harshly than the 14 year old? As a parent, I'd like the juvenile arsonist booted out too. Sounds like a possible budding psycho.
On the surface, seems to me both should have had some suspension time, the shover should have been made to apologize and the arsonist made to undergo a psych referral.
Is it possible racism did play a part here?
If you're serious then it's really hard to take people like you seriously. Answers like yours is part of the problem and not part of the solution. Just blame society when you don't get your way. Is that your answer to young people who are out of control?
I don't think we have all the information here. But we do have your chosen FR name.
And that's harder than a felony criminal conviction?
Both lawyers presented evidence on those points, Superville explained. The county attorney put on a substantial amount of evidence that Shaquanda had been a persistent behavior problem at school and that the mother failed to cooperate at every turn.
I asked if there was anything that could be done that had not already been done and the repeated answer was no, Superville said.
Superville said reports from Lamar County Juvenile Probation Department also weighed on his decision. Before a juvenile trial which could result in probation, the probation department conducts a fact-finding survey.
The juvenile officer said the mother refused to cooperate and said he had no reason to believe the mother would cooperate if Shaquanda received probation, Superville said.
That theme was repeated witness after witnessthat the mother made it impossible to help Shaquanda, Superville said. She blamed everyone except the child for misbehavior.
Good point! I wonder if he life wouldn't have been different if she had been name "Linda" or "Mary" or "Susan". 'Couse that would mean she had a different mother (and maybe even a daddy at home).
I think WLR means that 5 years in a lock up is a little extreme for shoving someone. However we do not know all the details. Looks to me like the town and schools were just a little tired of Shaquandra's and Craola's antics, and making an example of her.
"Shaquandra Cotton, who is black,"
I just arrived from Mars and I read this. I have to ask you earthlings what is the underlying assumption behind this phrase?
You see, Martian, on Earth the media assumes that there are only two kinds of people, white and black, and that the white kind is racist (hates blacks) and is always guilty of doing hateful things to the other kind. So that the media needs only to mention one of the two words, white or black, and all the white guilt comes into play. Understand?
- Martian: no.
I agree that we don't know all the facts but based on what we have gleamed from the news item it seems clear enough that the girl has a history of misbehavior and the mother isn't really interested in the best interests of her child, if she were I seriously doubt that she would continue working to make a bad situation worse by screaming racism when the situation seems to indicate otherwise. In our society today too many parents are just too quick to make excuses for their children's bad behavior and inadequate upbringing..
It has been my experience that juvenile courts are not prone to handing out harsh sentences to juvenile offenders until they have had many chances to straighten out and fly right no matter the color of their skin. The parents have more impact on a child's actions than anyone else. Children are a product of their upbringing. Too many parents today would rather try to be their children's best friend and not as much as acting as their responsible parent. This case seems to be an example of like mother, like daughter.
The expected response.
Looks like Shaquandra's grandma ain't too bright, either ...
Pretty vague. Expected response from whom?
Assault your mailman for bringing the letters late and you have committed a felony because it happened while he was working and was directly related to his job.
No state can allow its acts or officers to be reduced to impotence or it ceases to be able to govern. The result is anarchy or mob rule and a Hobbesian war of all against all, the naked ape au' naturel.
The idea is to prevent the obstruction, intimidation or injury of public officials in the performance of their duites.
No way. This has to be parody
The article does not mention that the 14 year old burned down her own parents' house. Perhaps she got a lenient sentence because the parents as the offended party requested it. If Shaquandra had shoved her mother, grandmother, or some other relative perhaps she would also have gotten probation.
And I fully support teachers and aides being given special protection as public servants. They put themselves at risk in numerous ways in our out of control public school systems.
Wow! Where did you hear that? I am not disputing it, but it is amazing the lengths the media will go to avoid publishing information when they want to.
I know the child is a juvenile, but I have seen the media print everything - no holds barred - when they want to.
It's been in the Paris News (which I think can be found online). I live 20 minutes drive from Paris so I read the print edition of the paper.
Schools are out of control here. My mother is city judge in another town and the high school has started referring their discipline problems to the court system. She routinely sees kids for fighting.
I taught in the Dallas school system and I saw every combination of fighting you can imagine: teacher on student, parent on teacher, student on student, student on somebody else's parent, etc. And that was a middle school!
I mean, really.
I gon' name may baby "Meconium".