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Student advocate arrested again

Jeremy Lazarus | 6/29/2016, 7:45 a.m.
In the face of a federal probe, Chesterfield Public Schools is doubling down on its efforts to keep an advocate ...

In the face of a federal probe, Chesterfield Public Schools is doubling down on its efforts to keep an advocate for disabled students from taking part in meetings to help develop individualized education programs (IEPs) for students.

For the third time in the past 14 months, Kandise N. Lucas has been arrested at a Chesterfield school for trespassing.

The latest arrest, on June 10 at Ecoff Elementary School in Chester, occurred when she went to the school for an IEP meeting a parent had invited her attend.

Officials at the school barred Ms. Lucas and then called police when she did not leave. Ms. Lucas was issued a summons for trespassing, according to the police department.

She said her protests to school officials and the police officer that the arrest violates federal and state laws, as well as federal regulations barring such arrests, went unheeded.

Ms. Lucas returned to the school June 16 with a Chesterfield Branch NAACP official in a bid to attend a second meeting, but left to avoid another arrest when school officials again called police.

Ms. Lucas is to make her first appearance in Chesterfield General District Court on Monday, June 27.

The action comes as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights probes her complaint that she was wrongfully arrested in April 2015 for trespassing at Meadowbrook High School in violation of federal laws and regulations that protect student advocates.

In that case, Ms. Lucas initially was found guilty in Chesterfield General District Court, but was acquitted March 16 after she appealed to Chesterfield Circuit Court.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy J. Hauler found her not guilty after determining Ms. Lucas had a “good faith” expectation that a parent’s invitation to attend an IEP meeting allowed her to be on the school grounds.

In January, Ms. Lucas was acquitted of trespassing at Falling Creek Middle School after a court determined there was no evidence she was on school property, despite the claim of a school secretary.

Ms. Lucas said she hopes Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney William W. Davenport will decline to prosecute the new trespassing charge based on Judge Hauler’s ruling.

She said that she also plans to seek an order from Judge Hauler barring school officials from having her arrested in the future for seeking to attend IEP meetings.

“It has become ridiculous,” Ms. Lucas said. “They are trying to intimidate me, and that is not going to work.”