The story of a six-year-old girl arrested for throwing a tantrum is clearly about the failure of the people in charge.
Last Thursday, Meralyn Kirkland received a call from Dennis Turner, the school resource officer at Lucious and Emma Dixon Elementary Charter School in Orlando. Turner said Kirkland’s granddaughter Kaia Rolle had been arrested because, in Kirkland’s retelling, “There was an incident and she kicked somebody and she is being charged and she is on her way.”
Rolle was charged with battery and taken to a juvenile detention center. Her grandmother maintains that Rolle’s sleep apnea was a contributor to her actions. After fingerprinting and a mug shot the cops released Rolle into her grandmother’s custody.
Turner is now under investigation from the department. Incredibly, he also arrested an eight-year-old student on the same day. Both arrests were made without the approval of a supervisor that’s required by Orlando Police guidelines for arrests of those under 12.
Rolle is black, which means she is disproportionately likely than her white peers to be arrested at school in 43 states and the District of Columbia. It’s also worth wondering if her case would have been elevated to a criminal issue if her school wasn’t bound by a state law passed after the Parkland shooting to have a sworn law enforcement officer on campus.
And while it seems Rolle’s record will remain clean after this incident, the trauma of such an event could linger for a long time, making this a story with a decidedly unhappy ending.