School leaders call special meeting to tackle gang concerns

Mid-South school leaders and the church community's focus is on forcing gangs out. Members of the Memphis city school board called a special meeting for Monday.

They'll vote on a new policy designed to fight back against gangs. The proposal would be the toughest yet for Memphis students.

The new proposal recognizes that gang activity that begins in the streets often enters into school environments.

"And we want our kids thinking about going to college, not if they want to be a crip or a blood," said Commissioner Dr. Jeff Warren.

Warren says the new policy would cover offenses from students throwing gang signs at school, to gang initiation activities - all the way up to gang related fights.

Warren added, "I think as a board what we are trying to do is let the community know and let our students know that we're moving this up in degrees of severity."

Commissioners say the biggest change you'll see is that offenses once associated with what's called a level 3 offense have been moved up to level 4 and level 5 status.

"What that means in english is what would have given you a suspension or maybe two or three days out of school may be enough at level 5 to send you out of school for a full year," Warren said.

School board officials say their new policy would do more than just discipline kids, they say the violators will also be required to undergo counseling and participate in rehab activities.

"These are children, these are not horrible human beings. They may have stepped in the wrong direction and our duty as a community is to lovingly pull them back in. But we can't allow them to negatively affect our other kids so that's why we've moved it to a level 4 or a level 5 and we are going to be moving them out of school if that happens," said Warren.

Commissioner Warren admits that some in the community may be disappointed that the new policy does not bring back corporal punishment.

But he maintains that corporal punishment was just not getting through to students.

"Corporal wasn't working. I looked at some of the data on corporal punishment. We had some kids who were being beaten 118 times in the school year. Now if you beating a kid - the same kid 118 times you can't tell me that you are getting through to that child," Warren added.

Warren said the new policy also requires more involvement of parents of students who break the rules.

He also said while all students will face tougher punishment for gang related activity, middle and high school students will be held to an even more stringent standard.


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