Mom calls for Spokane Schools superintendent resignation - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Mom calls for Spokane Schools superintendent resignation

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A local mom is searching for support in her push to get the leader of Spokane Public Schools to step down. A local mom is searching for support in her push to get the leader of Spokane Public Schools to step down.
SPOKANE, Wash. -

A local mom is searching for support in her push to get the leader of Spokane Public Schools to step down.

Virla Spencer tells KHQ that her 15 year old son went to Shaw Elementary on August 31st to pick up his seventh grade sister after school.  She says things got out of hand after the school resource officer put her son in handcuffs.  Now she's petitioning for Superintendent Shelly Readinger of SPS to resign. 

"I've reached out to her about this incident and others have reached out and she was silent," says Spencer.   "I believe she is in agreement." 

Spencer says her son, Cameron Wilder and a friend went to Shaw Elementary and tried to enter the building to use the bathroom, but the school resource officer told them "no."   Spencer says her son and the friend then walked to the side of the building to use a porta potty.  After that the boys waited near where the buses arrive. 

According to Spencer the school resource officer came over to her son and his friend and grabbed his wrist, twice, and when the Wilder pulled his arm away the officer placed him in handcuffs. 

"He was terrified," says Spencer. 

She was upset because no one ever called her to tell her that her son had been detained.  "Immediately it was like my heart had fell in my lap," says Spencer.   

Spencer says she went to several meetings at the school, but tells us that no real solution was given.  "When I went down and had a meeting, I wanted answers.  I didn't say hey, I'm going to sue the district.  I wanted answers," says Spencer. 

James Wilburn who works with youth in the Spokane Public School District says he doesn't agree with the resource officer's actions.  "I'm against it, I'm against it, I'm against it," says Wilburn.  "I can tell you the superintendent didn’t like it either."  

Mark Sterk, Director of campus security for SPS says he stands by his officer's action.  "The officer was justified in what he did.  We would never make an arrest like that, we would never detain kids like that without warning first." 

Sterk says the officer told the boys once not to enter and then saw them trying to get in another door, so he told them they were under arrest.   

"These officers are trained just the same as any police officer," says Sterk.  "It's up to their discretion when to use handcuffs."

Spencer says the problem stems from a bigger issue.  She believes her son was targeted because of his race.  "This is an issue the whole nation is dealing with and I just could not believe this would happen."    

"When you stop and think about it, that is in the back of the minds of practically every person of color," says Wilburn.  "We got racial issues in just about every institution that there is, especially around here." 

Wilburn says he sympathizes with Spencer but doesn't believe the superintendent is to blame.

"Dr. Readinger has been doing a lot to try and work with me and others in trying to curb the disparities," says Wilburn.  "The superintendent didn’t handcuff the boy, didn't know that he was going to be handcuffed.  To go up there at the superintendent who had no earthly idea what was going on might be over reaching a little."   

This isn't the first time that Virla Spencer  has lobbied for the resignation of a superintendent.  In 2005 she petitioned for the superintendent at the time to resign.  She says if the issue was resolved then, she wouldn’t be here right now. 

"I am an advocate for my child, I am a parent and I want answers," says Spencer.  "I want to understand what made it get to the point where they had to use handcuffs on my son."

We were told by SPS that Superintendent Readinger would not comment.

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