According to the Huffington Post, the teens, who attend Bolivar Central High School, were charged with indecent exposure in early November.
Both were placed in cells with other inmates, and one of the students, Antonio Ammons, said he had never been arrested before. He now faces $250 in fines and court fees.
According to Deputy Charles Woods, the Bolivar Central High School resource officer, the students were reprimanded several times before the arrest. He said that Ammons was suspended previously for “showing gang related/hate violence or intimidation,” and that he “walks around all day every day disrespecting the rules of the school, the principal, the teachers, other students and even the SRO”.
However, some parents told local media that jail was a bit excessive.
“I think jail time might be a little too much, but at the same time there has been a lot of sagging pants,” parent Crystal Wing told WMC.
“Maybe we have them do some community service, pick up some trash, help at the dog kennels, things like that,” Sharon Till told WREG. “I think putting them in jail is just a little bit much.”
The excessive punishment is yet another example of the school-to-prison pipeline, which refers to the policies and practices that push the most at-risk schoolchildren out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Whether or not the parents of these students seek legal action remains to be seen. According to FirstAmendmentSchools.com, courts “employ a variety of tests to determine whether restrictions on student dress violate First Amendment free expression rights.”
Some courts apply a two-part test taken from the Supreme Court’s flag-burning cases, while other courts apply the Tinker standard to student dress. Under the Tinker standard, “school officials cannot regulate student expression unless they can reasonably forecast that the expression will cause a material interference or substantial disruption of the school environment.”