LCO Tribal Governing Board
In response to a letter from LCO Ojibwe School Superintendent Jessica “Hutch” Hutchison to parents about a rise in behavior and dress among middle school students that has in the past been associated with gang affiliation, the Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board wishes to stress to the community that this behavior won’t be tolerated at the school, nor the community-at-large, and a strong response will be taken.
The Tribal Governing Board is asking parents and community members teach all of our youth about the dangers of gang activity, and to remind everyone of the tragedies that overcame Lac Courte Oreilles in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s when gang violence claimed the lives of two young tribal members and eventually, the imprisonment of dozens of our people.
Superintendent Hutchison’s letter reminds parents of this dark period when community members suffered through threats, violence, and the harm that drugs bring to LCO. Tribal leaders went to great lengths during that time to keep the presence and violence of gangs off the LCO School campus and asks that parents provide safety and stability by talking with your children about these hazards and to support the efforts of the school.
Superintendent Hutchison said in just the few weeks since the start of the school year, school officials have witnessed a small number of middle school students using hand gestures and signs and/or wearing their hats/clothing in ways that demonstrate gang affiliation.
The LCO Ojibwe School will begin dealing with this behavior as a Class I offense which may result in in-school suspensions or out-of-school suspensions, in addition to parent contacts and law enforcement intervention. The school will continue to take opportunities to provide education on the hazards of gang involvement to all students and encourage parents and community members to do the same in order to provide a safe school and community for all.
The Tribal Governing Board fully supports these necessary actions to protect the community as-a-whole, and to protect our youth, and reminds everyone that our children should feel safe when they go to school. Parents should feel secure as well when their children leave for school each and every morning. Gang activities will not be allowed to swell to levels witnessed two decades ago, and the Tribal Governing Board will fully support all preventive measures taken by the school and law enforcement.
As a first step, the Tribal Governing Board will be discussing the current curfew ordinance in effect which forbids youth 17 and younger to be outside after 11:00 pm until 6:00 am. The Board may choose to expand those hours on school nights. In addition, the Board is instructing law enforcement to begin enforcing this ordinance immediately.
Enforcement of this ordinance will allow law enforcement to detain any minor not in the company of an adult guardian or out for purposes of employment or school activities until the adult guardian picks them up; and authorizes citations in an amount up to $250.00.