Putting Education Reform To The Test

Feedback Loop: Reaction To Trayvon Martin

Gerardo Mora / Getty News Images

Attendees at a town hall meeting hold up a photo of slain teen Trayvon Martin.

The nation is talking about the death of Trayvon Martin in a gated Florida community Feb. 26, and that discussion included StateImpact Florida as well.

Many of the comments to our coverage this week dealt with Martin’s suspension from school at the time he was shot by a volunteer neighborhood watch leader. Some readers have pulled the Miami-Dade school district’s policies to argue that Martin’s suspension indicates some sort of serious offense.

Update on 3/26 at 1:38 p.m. — Martin family attorney confirms suspension for drugs.

The Martin family attorney has confirmed Trayvon Martin was suspended because he had an empty plastic bag with traces of marijuana, according to the Miami Herald

Our original post from 3/23 at 3:15 p.m.

We don’t yet know why Martin was suspended. The family has said only that his offense was not violent, while a teacher said Martin was suspended for being late too many times.

There are also conflicting reports about the length of Martin’s suspension. The Orlando Sentinel has reported Martin received a five-day suspension, while the Miami Herald reported a 10-day suspension.

On to the comments, but a reminder: Let’s keep things civil and the language clean; let’s stick to the facts; and let’s remember the families on both sides dealing with this still-unfolding case.

Reader Krop School Hero believed the media coverage has not accurately portrayed Krop Senior High School, which Martin attended:

I’m sorry to say, but SOO many people are uninformed ignorant morons. Everyone is believing EVERYTHING the media is saying. I actually GO to this school and I am happy to tell you that several teachers have made announcements in class saying that if anyone has any problems, they are encouraged to see one of the many counselors we have on campus. Our principal even said during our moment of silence (which was made before this article was written, obviously) that if anyone had any problems to go to the counselors. Our school is going through a hard time. We have reporters outside our school, rumors going around and that is how the media receives this false information!! … Please people, get your facts straight before you talk bad about our school.

I really hope the media can see this comment I’m writing because it’s really bringing the overall attitude of our school down. A fellow classmate was wrongfully gunned down, and it’s taking a toll on all of us. So please, do not make accusations without knowing the facts. Thank You.

Sujag92 argues the suspension — for whatever reason — is not relevant to the circumstances of Martin’s death:

do you really believe knowing “why” Trayvon was suspended would be helpful for the readers to understand his senseless killing? If he was suspended for fighting would that justify George Zimmerman’s actions? If he was suspended for missing too many days at school would that justify George Zimmerman’s actions? If he was suspended for any of the numerous offenses that warrant suspension, would that further justify George Zimmerman’s actions? As a parent of a 17 year old who would have probably reacted as Trayvon did to a stranger questioning who he was and why he was there, the blatant justification of the killing scares me. My son would have taken offense to a stranger following him. I believe my son would have approached George Zimmerman to ask why he was being followed. It is my opinion that George Zimmerman could have stated, we have had multiple break-ins within the past 15 months. I have never seen you before and I am the Neighborhood Watch Captain. I want to make sure that you are here visiting with someone. That simple sentence would have changed the outcome.

So back to my original question, do you really believe knowing why Trayvon was suspended is important to the facts of this case?

Kanisha J argues the school does have a role to play dealing with student grief:

While it is not holistically the responsibility of the school to recognize loss, they have a part. There was never a student death at my school that was not annouced within a timely matter. Additionally, it takes a community to raise a child. The family, church, school, family of friends, media, every thing that contributes to the society has a part, that doesn’t mean the school can pass their duty. Additionally, lets be real. How the heck can I focus in my science class, if I feel conflicted or troubled on the inside, if I don’t feel safe or accepted in my own skin?

Reader reaction is an important part of building StateImpact Florida’s education coverage. Feedback Loop will be a regular feature highlighting your questions, criticisms and comments.


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