Parents clash with Jefferson City Public School\'s disciplinary actions

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JEFFERSON CITY- The ACLU of Missouri reported a study that students with disabilities and black students receive disciplinary action more than white students and students who aren't mentally, emotionally or physically impaired.

The report led some local parents to voice their concerns.

Jefferson City mother, Amanda Villa, is a white woman with three biracial children who have mental disabilities.

"They range from ADHD to explosive anger problems," Villa said. "I feel like due to that they have been treated more unfairly than kids from a larger race group than themselves."

Villa said she was outraged when the Jefferson City Public School District suspended her youngest daughter, Mya Villa, from school.

"I've watched kids of Caucasian descent do the same things and they tend to get in less trouble than my child who does something minor," Villa said. "I get called to come pick them up."

Villa said she is experiencing financial problems because she has to take off work when her kids get suspended.

"It's putting me in a huge financial bond," Villa said. "The fact that they're getting put out, for what I consider, are minor infractions; there should have been an IEP put in place."

The 31-year-old mom said she fears this unfair treatment will affect her children's social abilities and confidence in the future.

"They start feeling like their failures, and their not good enough for anything," Villa said. 

She said she wants the school system to change the way it handle student behavioral issues.

"Stop looking at the color of the child, first of all, and look at the infraction," Villa said. "Don't do it to my child because my child doesn't match the color in the description of what your ideal situation and student is." 

Natasha Nellem has four children, and she said three of her kids have disabilities.

"They have ADHD, ODD and anger problems," Nellem said. "My seven year-old has been kicked out of school because of it."

Nellem said JCPS suspended her son because he had a temper tantrum in school. She said he has been staying in a behavior facility in St. Louis since May, and she doesn't agree with the school system's disciplinary procedures.

"How could you just kick a 7-year-old out of school?" Nellem said. "I think there could have been more things that they could have done than to just kick him out of school." 

Nellem said her heart hurts for her child because she doesn't want this to have a negative impact on his life.

"I don't want him to grow up stealing, going to juvenile or being locked up for the rest of his life," Nellem said. "It affects them mentally, physically and emotionally."

The Jefferson City Public School District wasn't available to speak with KOMU 8 News.