Salecia Johnson is six years old. On April 13, her teachers say she had a temper tantrum in class -- but instead of putting her in time-out, the school called the police.
Salecia was handcuffed, charged with battery, and kept in police custody for an hour before her parents found out what was going on. Though all charges have been dropped, Salecia -- a 6-year-old -- now has an arrest record.
Salecia's mom, Constance, says that "Salecia has been traumatized by this experience. She's afraid to return to school and recently woke up in the middle of the night saying 'they are coming to get me.'" Constance wants to make sure that this incident won't affect Salecia's future, and she wants answers about why police officers were involved in the first place.
So Constance started a petition on Change.org demanding that Salecia's arrest be removed from her record and that Creekside Elementary pledge to stop involving police in school discipline.
Constance believes that what happened to Salecia is part of a larger problem. Schools across America are adopting "zero-tolerance" policies that are making police involvement in school disciplinary matters more and more common, according to the Advancement Project, a group working with Constance's family.
If thousands of people sign Constance's petition, the police and the officials at Creekside Elementary will see that they can't arrest and handcuff a six-year-old girl without facing public consequences. Schools around the country will take notice -- and Constance hopes there won't be another child that faces what Salecia did.
Click here to sign Constance's petition demanding that Salecia's arrest be removed from her record and that Creekside Elementary pledge to stop involving police in school discipline.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- William and the Change.org team
Even though it's been a week since Georgia kindergartner Salecia Johnson was carted off to jail in handcuffs after throwing a temper tantrum in school, her parents are still unsure what caused the 6-year-old's behavior.
"The facts aren't really clear to me how she ended up in the office in the first place. I'm sure something else was going on, because my child is not a bad child and she does not act out to this degree," Salecia's mother, Constance Ruff, 27, told The Root. She believes there's more to the story than what school officials or the local police department reported.
Last Friday, April 13, around 11:30 a.m., Salecia, who attends Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, Ga. -- about 100 miles outside of Atlanta -- was taken to the principal's office after being involved in an altercation with two other girls who were pushing one another, Ruff shared.
Once in the office, Salecia became "violent and disruptive" and displayed behavior that included "pushing several other students; running away from the school staff; slamming chairs around the school office; climbing up and knocking over a bookcase; knocking pictures off the wall; scribbling over the walls and door; and injuring a school employee," Baldwin County Schools Superintendent Geneva Braziel said in a written statement.
"That could have played a role in Salecia's acting out, because she was being disciplined and other girls weren't," said Ruff, who added that the school never contacted her about Salecia misbehaving but said that she did speak with her daughter's teacher after the girl complained about kids "picking on" her. Creekside Elementary School officials referred all questions to superintendent Braziel.
Braziel's statement also says that the school called the girl's emergency contacts -- who included Salecia's parents and Ruff's sister -- and that the police were involved because safety became a concern, pointing out that it was the Milledgeville Police Department's decision to handcuff and transport Salecia to jail. Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord declined The Root's request to be interviewed for this story.