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12-Year-Old Girl Handcuffed for Doodling on Desk

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New York Daily News: A 12-year-old Queens girl was hauled out of school in handcuffs for an artless offense - doodling her name on her desk in erasable marker, the Daily News has learned.

alexa gonzalez

Alexa Gonzalez was scribbling a few words on her desk Monday while waiting for her Spanish teacher to pass out homework at Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills, she said.

"I love my friends Abby and Faith," the girl wrote, adding the phrases "Lex was here. 2/1/10" and a smiley face.

But instead of simply cleaning off the doodles after class, Alexa landed in some adult-sized trouble for using her lime-green magic marker.

She was led out of school in cuffs and walked to the precinct across the street, where she was detained for several hours, she and her mother said.

"I started crying, like, a lot," said Alexa. "I made two little doodles. ... It could be easily erased. To put handcuffs on me is unnecessary." Alexa, who had a stellar attendance record, hasn't been back to school since, adding, "I just thought I'd get a detention. I thought maybe I would have to clean [the desk]."

"She's been throwing up," said her mom, Moraima Camacho, 49, an accountant, who lives with her daughter in Kew Gardens. "The whole situation has been a nightmare."

City officials acknowledged Alexa's arrest was a mistake.

"We're looking at the facts," said City Education Department spokesman David Cantor. "Based on what we've seen so far, this shouldn't have happened."

"Even when we're asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail, and discretion used in deciding whether an arrest or handcuffs are really necessary," said police spokesman Paul Browne.

Alexa is the latest in a string of city students who have been cuffed for minor infractions. In 2007, 13-year-old Chelsea Fraser was placed under arrest for writing "okay" on her desk at Intermediate School 201. And in 2008, 5-year-old Dennis Rivera was cuffed and sent to a psych ward after throwing a fit in his kindergarten.

A class action lawsuit was filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union last month against the city for using "excessive force" in middle school and high schools. A 12-year-old sixth-grader, identified in the lawsuit as M.M., was arrested in March 2009 for doodling on her desk at the Hunts Point School.

Alexa is still suspended from her school, her mother said. She and her mom went to family court on Tuesday, where Alexa was assigned eight hours of community service, a book report and an essay on what she learned from the experience.

"I definitely learned not to ever draw on a desk," said Alexa. "They told me with a pencil this could still happen."

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
whargoul February 5, 2010, 4:58 PM

Get that girl out of public school and give the school the finger!

Nickolai February 5, 2010, 5:04 PM

Good - she learnt her lesson. Shouldn’t be writing on the desk in the first place, it’s anti-social. If only every community and country took this stance. From the girl’s own mouth, the action obviously had an effect on her.

C N February 5, 2010, 5:47 PM

What the hell is this world coming to? That’s insane. Sometimes I draw swirls on the desk during lectures with an eraser, want to detain me too? I’ve been to old school houses where it was tradition to carve, yes, carve your name into the desk with a knife or hammer and chisel. This is ridiculous. Even the eight hours of community service is ridiculous.

And whoever sends a five-year-old to a psych ward deserves to be sent to a psych ward themselves and then promptly fired. Way to screw that kid up for life. Congratulations.

Anonymous February 5, 2010, 7:00 PM

Wow, my students actually write on their desks with expo erasable markers to work out problems. It’s fun for them, totally easy to clean, and it helps them study.

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