NC HEAT says it’s “back” advocating in Wake County schools

Posted by T. Keung Hui on February 19, 2014 

NC HEAT is back in the news this week with a member who spoke at a White House panel today and the group co-sponsoring a Saturday showing of a documentary on the Wake County school system’s school-to-prison pipeline.

Ramiyah Robinson of N.C. HEAT was on a panel this morning, Feb. 19, sponsored by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. The topic of the panel, held in D.C. at the U.S. Department of Education, was “Reducing Disparities and Promoting Positive Discipline to Ensure Educational Excellence for African Americans.”

“Ramiyah Robinson is a ninth grade student in Wake County, NC and is an active leader with North Carolina Heroes Emerging Among Teens (NC HEAT), a youth-led group that advocates for quality education for all students and the elimination of school push-out practices in Wake County and surrounding areas,” according to a press release about the panel from the Youth Organizing Institute.

Ramiyah was a peer mediator at her middle school and is working to get peer mediation implemented in her new high school. Currently Ramiyah is helping to lead a campaign to highlight solutions, not suspensions in Wake County to help transform the school environment. NC Heat is calling for positive approaches, like restorative practices and peer mediation, instead of suspensions for minor misbehavior.”

Jumping ahead to Saturday, NC HEAT is one of the co-sponsors of the free film screening of "Mission Critical: Ending the School-to-Prison-Pipeline," a new documentary produced by Advocates for Children's Services, a project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. The screening and a community dialogue will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 1801 Hillsborough Road in Raleigh.

“The 25-minute film spotlights the stories of three Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) students who were pushed out of school and into the juvenile and criminal systems because of harsh and unfair school discipline policies,” says a press release from Legal Aid. “The students' stories represent an all too familiar experience for thousands of WCPSS students - particularly African-American students. The video also highlights a successful alternative.”

The screening comes after N.C. HEAT was one of the groups that filed a federal discrimination complaint in January with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that the Wake County school system and local police agencies are engaging in a pattern of discrimination and unlawful criminalization caused by school policing policies and practices.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, school board members were invited by N.C. HEAT to attend the film screening. But Qasima Wideman, a Wake County high school senior and an N.C. HEAT student organizer, also came with a message.

“Yes, we’re back,” Wideman told the board.

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