Justice for Dre'Quan Dewitt
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We believe that on 4/20/2017, my son was unjustly suspended from Whittemore Park Middle School over allegations that he made a statement about “shooting up the school”. We believe that these allegations are unfounded, not only based on the flimsy evidence presented at my son's hearing (which occurred on 4/27/2017), but by the statements from witnesses that not only absolved my son from any wrongdoing, but also that they (at least two of the witnesses) were coerced and pressured into giving false statements.
Mrs. Livingston, the Principal of WPMS, called me on 4/19/2017 to tell me that my son Dre'Quan couldn't attend school. She asked me to bring him to school the next day to discuss an important matter. I ask her to tell me what it was and she stated again that we would have to meet in person. We agreed to meet at 6:00 pm on 4/20/17. In the meeting, Mrs. Livingston said that some kids on my son's bus told their parents and shared something on social media (Mrs. Livingston and Mrs. McGaha stated to us initially that it was Facebook, but they later told us it was on Snapchat.) . The two of the the school's administrators (Livingston and McGaha) stated that the kids didn't know my son's last name, but they said they all rode the same bus. So my husband, son, and I were still confused as to why are we there- we still did not understand where they were going with this. Mrs. Livingston pulled up my son's Power School profile and said “the last name is Dewitt”, but before she said that they didn't know my son's last name. Then the two assistant principals told us that a lot of kids wrote statements on my son. They told us they had a busy day pulling all the kids out of class to investigate this matter. The officer began to speak telling us that he works at the school everyday and he knows all of the trouble-making kids but he did not know my son. He let us know that, due to the fact that they had to have officers to watch the school all day and because of what the other kids said. The allegation was that my son said that he was going to shoot up the school and “if you are not wearing red, you will be shot.”
His hearing was on 4/27/2017 at the school Whittemore Park Middle at 10:15 am (we did not begin the hearing until 11:00 am). The hearing included myself, my husband, Dre'Quan, and three advocates for Dre'Quan. We were handed evidence packets and the allegations and witness statements were read into the record. Then Dre'Quan read his statement and our advocates were able to speak. We have serious disagreements with the way the investigation and the hearing were conducted:
1. Mrs. McGaha was absent from the hearing, which prevented us from being able to question her.
2. The school resource officer who assisted in the investigation was absent.
3. The letter titled “Notice of Disciplinary Action” (it was emailed to me by Mrs. Williams) stated that DreQuan was being disciplined for “Disrupting School” and “Disrespect” but no evidence relevant to the case was presented that indicated that Dre'Quan had been disrespectful to anyone.
4. At least two students stated that they were told by the school administrators that they should testify that DreQuan made the statements because the school had video and audio footage proving that DreQuan made the alleged comments. No such evidence was presented at the hearing and Mrs. Williams stated on the record that there was no audio available. We also have statements from two students indicating that the administrators attempted to pressure them into making false statements.
5. In addition to the statements from the students, we have a statement from a parent of one of the witnesses that states that she was not notified of her child being interviewed as a witness and that her son told her that he was pressured into making a false statement. Further, when she inquired with one of the administrators about what happened, that administrator told her that the allegation was found to be a hoax.
6. At the hearing, the hearing officer, Mr. Finch, objected to our advocates attempts to enter tangential information regarding my son's good grades and lack of an extensive disciplinary record into the record, but he allowed a rumor regarding my son having been in possession of a switchblade while in our neighborhood into the record. There was no indication that the administrators were able to confirm the switchblade story to be true and they did not provide a time or date in which the switchblade story occurred.
7. Though one witness indicated that there was a text message going around regarding the matter, the administrators were not able to present a copy of the text message.
8. Though some of the witnesses indicated that there was a post on social media (Snapchat) regarding the incident, the administrators were unable to present a picture of the post or verify its source.
9. We were told that a student told his/her parent about the Snapchat post and that parent subsequently notified the school. The administrators were not able to tell us if that student was on the bus and witnessed the alleged incident.
10. The administrators were unable to demonstrate for us where the witnesses were on the bus in proximity to where my son was sitting. They were also unable to give an exact number of how many students were on the bus at the time of the incident and they did not provide a reason why only seventeen students were interviewed during the investigation.
11. We have no statement from the bus driver.
12. During the hearing, Mr. Finch attempted several times to adjourn the hearing without providing an opportunity for our advocates to scrutinize the evidence against my son or ask the administrators questions.
Our son is a well behaved young man. Additionally, he has good grades and will be taking honors classes next year. We are confident in our son when he tells us these allegations are false and we are outraged at the treatment and persecution of our son and the stress it has caused him and the rest of our family. We need the Horry County School District to know that our son is innocent that that he has been regulated to alternative schooling for a trumped-up charge back by flimsy evidence.
WE WANT OUR SON BACK AT WHITTEMORE PARK AND CLEARED OF THESE ALLEGATIONS!!!!
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