Saturday, May 7, 2011

Teens protest student’s possible deportation (Picayune Item)

Students protest fellow student’s deportation

By Jeremy Pittari, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Fri May 06, 2011, 09:07 AM CDT

PICAYUNE — A number of students at Picayune Memorial High School wore homemade shirts protesting the arrest of a fellow student and member of the school’s soccer team.

The students said they made the shirts to voice their opinion concerning the possible deportation of the student, found to be an illegal alien, that had been attending the school.

On Wednesday, two teenagers were arrested after officers with the Picayune Police Department stopped a car for careless driving. One of the young men in the vehicle, 19 year-old Kevin Govani Escalante, was discovered to be an illegal alien. Escalante and the 17 year-old juvenile that was driving the vehicle were arrested for possession of marijuana, according to police reports. The juvenile was additionally charged with misdemeanor driving violations and resisting arrest by fighting, the report states.

Capt. Chad Dorn said that when the officer determined that Escalante did not have a Social Security number, he contacted the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as per departmental policy. ICE then placed a hold on the young man, Dorn said.

On Thursday, a number of students who attend the high school wore homemade T-shirts that called for Escalante’s release. Some of the students involved in the protest, Jessie Duke, Steven Asher, Leena Haidar, Dalton O’Meara and Jebb Duke, said they were suspended for wearing the shirts. They said they planned to hold a public protest during Thursday’s morning break, but the break was canceled. The parents of one of the students, Penny Sevin, estimated that about 20 students were suspended for wearing the shirts.

Joshua Crawford, a senior at Picayune Memorial High, said the entire soccer team was also wearing shirts to protest the deportation of Escalante, in addition to other students. He said he did not take part in the protest.

Escalante was a student at the high school and on the soccer team, even though he is not a legal resident of this country, said the students.

Haidar said an announcement was made over the school intercom for teachers to send anyone who was out of school uniform to the office. She said she and the other students were suspended on the grounds that they were causing a disruption, not for being out of uniform.

O’Meara said for about the past year Escalante has been staying with him at his house, since Escalante does not have family that lives in the area.

Assistant Superintendent Brent Harrell said the school canceled the break in light of rumors of the planned protest. Harrell said he could not confirm or deny whether any students had been suspended for wearing the shirts, or whether any students were suspended for any reason.

Harrell said according to state law, the school district is not required to ask for proof of citizenship when registering students. To be registered for school, a student must have a birth certificate from any country, immunization records and proof of residency in the school district. A Social Security number is optional for school registration, Harrell said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Out of uniform"??? Really???

If it's a public school, they can't make them wear uniforms.