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.