Mother Enraged Over School Fines Exceeding $3,000 In Disciplinary Fees

Chicago, IL – Marsha Godard, a struggling, unemployed mother of a Noble Network of Charter School district student, is being hit with more than $3,000 in fines because of an accumulation of demerits against her 16-year-old son, Tavonta Gray. Demerits are assigned as a disciplinary action and can lead to fines.

According to Marsha, her son had been reprimanded with demerits for violations like untied shoes, tardiness, wrinkled garments, failure to sit up straight, an unacceptable number of undone buttons on a polo shirt, and detention. She’s citing this fee process may be a racial issue or discrimination to impoverished students.

How much money has been collected in fines? What is it being used for? The Huffington Post reports, The Noble Network, an alternative charter school program in Chicago, has enraged students and parents alike for collecting nearly $390,000 in disciplinary fines from low-income, largely African-American and Latino students and their families, over just a three-year period. Public records show in 2011, the network collected nearly $190,000 in disciplinary fees. Marsha feels these schools are now being run more like a business and less like an educational platform.

MSNBC reports a representative from the nonprofit Noble Network said the disciplinary fees were used to offset the cost to run disciplinary programs, such as covering staff members to run detention.

The Chicago Public Schools’ 2013 budget outlines charter schools will receive close to $483 million in funding. The Noble Network of Charter Schools, which serves nearly 8,000 students across a dozen campuses, will receive the majority of CPS funds allocated for charter schools. They are expected to receive and estimated $70 million in 2013.

Marsha’s son’s grades and transcripts are being “held hostage,” therefore she is unable to transfer him elsewhere. Godard says Tavonta has been suspended 15 times from Chicago Bulls College Prep. His grades have been drastically affected, forcing him to be held back in grade levels. When she approached the school and attempted to negotiate the validity of the fines, she was offered a payment plan.

Do you think this type of disciplinary fining is a fair process? Should parents be financially accountable for their children’s misbehavior and appearance? Is the school system targeting or taking advantage of lower income students?

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