Isaiah joins other faith-based initiatives in requesting a moratorium on school suspensions and the removal of police from schools except for very unusual circumstances.
civil rights leaders and social justice activists from the faith community gathered at the State Office Building to call for a moratorium on school suspensions and a separation of the criminal justice system with the education system by removing police officers from schools. Organized by ISAIAH, a non-profit coalition of 100 congregations from various faith traditions working on social justice issues, the press conference was in response to numbers provided by the Minnesota Department of Education revealing that 60 percent of the almost 50,000 Minnesota students who were suspended in 2011-2012 were children of color, though students of color only make up 30 percent of the school population.
“We are in the midst of a crisis,” said Rev. Paul Slack, President of ISAIAH. “We need to unchain our children. We need to release them and stop criminalizing them and hold them up as the sacred people, the children of God as they are.”
Among the speakers was Towanna Williams, a parent of two children who attend school in the Robbinsdale School District. Her son Malique, a 6th grader who is 12 years old, has compulsive behaviors and is currently in an EBD classroom setting, which is mainly populated with African-American children. “Malique has been suspended three times, from September to December, and when he gets suspended, he’s not really told why he’s suspended, so he gets really confused about that,” Williams said.