Pinellas group calls for local representative’s support of youth citation bill

March 2, 2017. Tampa Bay Times. 

PALM HARBOR — At 26, Samantha Hernandez still remembers her 12-year-old self perusing the jewelry section of the Beall’s store in Lehigh Acres and spotting the $8 necklace with its fake sparkly diamonds.

She says she had the money and wanted to buy it. But an employee approached Hernandez and told her to leave. As she and a friend stepped outside, Hernandez realized she still had the necklace.

Coalition of churches call for expansion of state’s juvenile citation program

October 25, 2016. The Tampa Bay Times.

When she was caught stealing an $8 necklace as a 12-year-old, Samantha Hernandez said she was tackled to the ground and arrested, yet told the crime would be cleared from her record by the time she was 18.

That wasn’t the case.

“I’m now 25, and that arrest from 13 years ago still comes up when I apply for jobs, college and housing,” Hernandez said.

Pinellas School Board candidates invited to pledge support at FAST assembly tonight

October 24, 2016. The Tampa Bay Times.

All four Pinellas County School Board candidates have been invited to stand with a faith-based group pushing a bill to curb arrests among children.

Faith and Action for Strength Together, or FAST, has invited the candidates to a St. Petersburg assembly — one of 10 held around the state — to pledge to eliminate out-of-school suspensions, reduce unnecessary arrests and support effective reading curriculum in high-poverty schools.

Pinellas faith-based group’s rally urges leaders to reduce youth arrests and fix failing schools

April 18, 2016. Tampa Bay Times.

Gwen Anderson made sure administrators at Bay Point Middle School were aware that her eighth-grade grandson was struggling with traumatic childhood experiences.

So when he got five days of out-of-school suspension, Anderson, a former principal, fought it with administrators, feeling that time out of the classroom would only hurt him more.