Detroit Public School Students Suspended After Protesting Closures, Conditions

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After walking out of school to protest school closures and conditions, nearly 200 Detroit Public School students were suspended for as much as two weeks, their cell phones confiscated and gone through with phone contacts deleted by police.

A DPS spokesman later blasted the community for encouraging and participating in the protest.

Detroit News:

An estimated 200 students walked out of school midday Wednesday to protest the upcoming closure of Southwestern High School and demand improved conditions across the district. Students explained their reasons for walking out in a minute-long video posted on YouTube.

"We don't have the necessary supplies we need to learn," a student said in the clip viewed some 1,150 times. "Teachers should motivate us more to learn and succeed. … Some only care about their paychecks and not enough about our education. We want our voices heard in any decision-making process that will affect us as students."

Freddie Burse, another student in the video who helped organize the protest, said he learned he was being suspended after being pulled from the lunchroom Thursday.

After students identified as having walked out Wednesday gathered near the auditorium, school employees handed them suspension slips, Burse said. Students were not given details about why they were suspended, but the notices implied it was for being part of "a student demonstration."

In March, students at Denby High School in Detroit marched to protest plans to have the state take over the school as part of a plan initiated by Gov. Rick Snyder. Students were also suspended after they staged a walked out in March at an all boys school in Detroit to demand an education.

A student from the only all boys school in Detroit, the Douglass Academy spoke with the Detroit Free Press about their walkout:

"We've been wronged and disrespected and lied to and cheated," said senior Tevin Hill, who made the announcement to start the walkout. "They didn't listen to us when we complained to the administration. They didn't listen to the parents when they complained to the administration, so I guess this is the only way to get things solved."

Hill said he was accepted to Bowling Green State University but left the college's math placement exam recently.

"I'm generally good in math, but I was embarrassed. I didn't know any of it."

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2009 branded Detroit "ground zero" for education reform, however the district is still hundreds of millions of dollars in debt and faces dwindling enrollment, the first day of academic year 2011-2012 saw a 55 percent attendance rate.


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