Cheryl Massaro has a mindset of giving purpose and challenging various organizations to understand what Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) means.
Among the presentations made at a recent workshop of the Flagler County School Board was Massaro’s. She’s the Circuit 7 Board chair for the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), serving Putnam, Volusia, St. Johns, and Flagler counties.
School board members are pre-empted from addressing issues brought to the floor at the workshops.
Accompanying Massaro was Assistant Chief Debra Knight, Circuit 7, DJJ; DMC Co-Chair Marian Irvin, Flagler County Teen Court; Co-Chair Shantelle Britt, the Boys and Girls Club; and Clinical Christian Counselor Maria Barbosa.
The other players are Denise Calderwood, Focus on Flagler Youth; Pastor Sim Jones, People Helping People; Katrina Townsend, Student Services, Flagler County Public Schools; and Jerusha Logan, education chair, Flagler County NAACP.
With Logan was NAACP Branch President Linda Sharpe Haywood, other NAACP members, and Community Youth Advocate Keyontay Humphries of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights organization.
Getting others on board
Massaro’s discussion came in the wake of a complaint by the SPLC, which was filed with the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
The complaint stipulates that “African-American students in the school districts of Escambia, Bay, Okaloosa, Flagler, and Suwannee counties are suspended, expelled, and arrested at school for relatively minor and non-violent conduct.” A complaint was filed separately for each county.
Massaro branded Disproportionate Minority Contact as a federal mandate during the workshop, which was discussed initially by Congress in 1988, inasmuch as “minority youth come into contact with the juvenile system at a higher rate than their white counterparts. The proportion of minorities increases with each successive step into the system.”
Massaro said the biggest consequence for a state that does not address DMC is that “you will lose 20 percent of any grant that you apply for.’’
“As a state, it can even transcribe down into our little Flagler County school system, and some of those grants that we apply for are very important for maintaining our system,” she continued.
“That’s why we need to address this as a community, not just as a little committee. We need the whole community to buy into this concept.”
The partners on board with the DJJ are the Department of Education, the Department of Children & Families, and SEDNET (the Students with Severe Emotional Disturbance Network).
Massaro has presented the issue to the Kiwanis Club and is planning a message to take to social groups, the Flagler County Commission, and to anyone so the information can get out.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.