Prosecutors Refuse to Drop Charges Against 11-Year-Old Texas Child Held in Solitary Confinement

A school district and local prosecutors in Texas are standing firm on their decision to not dismiss charges against an 11-year-old boy. Despite the fact that the boy had reached out to his principal multiple times, seeking counseling, he was instead arrested and placed in solitary confinement.

After his father passed away, Timothy Murray apparently annoyed Palm Grove Elementary principal Myrta Garza with his constant requests and inquiries about the school dress code. In fact, she was so bothered by his behavior that she decided to call the Brownsville Independent School District police.

The boy was apprehended and confined to solitary for three days at the Darrell B. Hester Juvenile Detention Center. Prosecutors in Cameron County pressed for charges of “terroristic threat.”

Cameron County District Attorney Rene Garza defended his actions during a hearing on Wednesday, stating that his office is in the process of gathering additional evidence against Murray. Despite facing accusations of disregarding Texas laws that require parental involvement before intervening, Garza emphasized that dropping the charges is not currently being considered.

Murray switched schools following a previous incident, moving from Palm Grove to Canales Elementary, where Garza was the principal until earlier this year.

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According to the Texas Observer, the boy mentioned that he believed the incident had been resolved. However, to his surprise, he was once again summoned to the Assistant Principal’s office the following day, without any consultation with his mother.

Timothy recounted the incident, noting that he noticed the absence of the individuals he trusted among the administration members present. The situation took a tense turn when a police officer entered the room, visibly fiddling with his handcuffs. Feeling a surge of panic, Timothy asserted his right to have his mother present during the conversation, firmly stating, “I refuse to proceed with this discussion without my mother by my side.”

Afterwards, he requested the presence of his mother to come and collect him. During his hearing on Wednesday, the judge granted Murray the opportunity to receive homeschooling.

State Representative Penny Morales Shaw, one of the cosponsors of the legislation that mandates parental involvement, emphasized the importance of parents being included in threat assessments. “If a child is being considered for a threat assessment, parents have a right to be involved,” Shaw stated. She further suggested that the law should be prominently displayed at every school entrance to ensure that parents are fully aware of their rights.

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Other parents raise concerns about Principal Garza

According to The Observer, Garza served as principal at Canales from 2018 to 2023 until district Superintendent Rene Gutierrez removed her from the position. However, she continues to hold her position at Palm Grove.

According to the outlet, several other parents have also voiced their concerns about the principal. In one instance, a mother shared her experience of a meeting with Garza regarding her 5-year-old child. During the meeting, the mother’s own mother questioned the school’s special education plan for the boy. As a result, Garza took the drastic step of reporting the mother to Child Protective Services.

Andrea Ramos shared her disturbing experience with the Observer, revealing that just a day or two after the encounter, Child Protective Services (CPS) unexpectedly appeared at her doorstep, accusing her of neglecting her child. Fortunately, she was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.

Some parents claim that no action was taken when their child was being bullied or assaulted, or when they witnessed Garza screaming at children and parents.

According to data obtained by The Observer, Brownsville ISD’s officers made a total of 3,102 student arrests from May 2021 to November 2023. Out of these arrests, nearly 60% were for felony charges, with a shocking 76 arrests involving elementary school students.

The Messenger reached out to Brownsville Independent School District for additional comment, but did not receive an immediate response. The District Attorney’s office declined to provide a comment.

The next hearing for Murray has been scheduled for February 14, 2024.

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