Trespassing charge dismissed against education advocate

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 2/23/2017, 10:01 p.m.
Just like two other area school districts, Richmond failed in its bid to convict outspoken student advocate Kandise Lucas of ...

Just like two other area school districts, Richmond failed in its bid to convict outspoken student advocate Kandise Lucas of trespassing.

In a fresh victory for Ms. Lucas, a Richmond judge threw out the latest case against her, finding no evidence to support her arrest for trespassing at Blackwell Elementary School in South Side on Nov. 1.

Previously, Ms. Lucas beat charges of trespassing at three Chesterfield County schools and one charge of trespassing at a Henrico County School — all brought by administrators seeking to prevent her from assisting parents with children with special needs and individualized education plans.

In the Richmond case, General District Court Judge David M. Hicks found at a hearing last week that the trespass charge could not stand.

After hearing some testimony and reviewing a video, he upheld Ms. Lucas’ motion to dismiss in finding that she was in the building on legitimate business, was accompanied by a member of the School Board and was not being disruptive.

He also noted that she told police before her arrest that she had a protected federal right to be in the building as an advocate for a parent and student.

Thus, he ruled that Ms. Lucas had a “good faith belief” that she could be in the building, citing an appeals court case that such belief is an adequate defense to a trespass charge.

At the time, Ms. Lucas and then-School Board member Tichi Pinkney Eppes had accompanied a parent whose child had been suspended the day before for behavioral problems.

The parent was seeking a copy of the suspension letter that the school was supposed to issue to explain the suspension, but which her child, who is on an individualized education plan, did not receive.

Ms. Lucas said they waited three hours to meet with Dr. Wayne Stokes, Blackwell Elementary’s principal, but she said he never was able to produce the suspension letter required by school policy.

She said he directed police to remove her from the building after she recorded him and the staff allegedly backdated the letter.

Since then, she said she has emailed Superintendent Dana T. Bedden repeatedly about the issue regarding the suspension letter. She provided the Free Press with copies of her emails and Dr. Bedden’s responses. However, Dr. Bedden has not indicated to her that he would take any action in this matter.