Louisiana school officials face a lawsuit for handcuffing and shackling a six year old boy. The advocates who filed the charges include the child’s parents, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and the Southern Poverty Law Center. School officials from the Louisiana Recovery School District are accused of handcuffing the child for what the attorneys call, “minor offenses.” Included in the lawsuit are Paul Valias who is the superintendent for the school district and security officers of the Sarah T. Reed Elementary School where the child, now seven, was a student.
According to the director of communications for the school, Ken Jones, the employee involved in the charges was terminated and the child was never arrested. However, attorneys say that the methods of punishing students at the school crossed the line.
According to the lawsuit, an armed school security officer took a six year old to the principal’s office where the child was then handcuffed and shackled to a chair. The student was accused of shoving another child. Two days prior to the incident, which occurred in May of 2010, another officer handcuffed the child for failing to “listen and follow directions.”
The parents of the child said that the principal defended the officer’s actions in the case. The lawsuit states that the principal told the parents that it was part of the school’s policies to handcuff children who were “out of control” until they calm down. The child did not move when the principal told him to and the principal is accused of saying, “if the child failed to follow the rules in the future, he would be handcuffed.”
The parents claim in the lawsuit that the child’s life will never be the same since being handcuffed.
On a related note, HERE is an AP story about a similar lawsuit recently filed on behalf of an eight year old autistic girl who was allegedly handcuffed and arrested at her school last year. This lawsuit claims that the school district and the Sheriff’s Department violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.