A federal lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Law Center alleging that a deputy sheriff handcuffed two small elementary school students who have disabilities, resulting in pain and trauma, according to a federal lawsuit filed today.
In an extremely disturbing video, school resource officer, Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner, can be seen handcuffing a sobbing 8-year-old boy, referred to in court documents as S.R. The child is so small that Sumner has to lock the child’s biceps together behind his back. What makes the case even more appalling is that the child has a history of trauma and has been diagnosed with ADHD.
The other child named in the lawsuit, a girl named in the suit as L.G., was twice handcuffed in the same manner as S.R. She is a special needs student and has also been diagnosed with ADHD.
Neither child was accused of criminal conduct nor were they arrested or charged with a crime, but were being punished for behavior issues.
According to the ACLU:
Nationally, students with disabilities make up 12 percent of students in public schools, but are 75 percent of the students who are physically restrained by adults in their schools, according to the U.S. Department of Education. These disciplinary practices also feed into the “school-to-prison pipeline,” where children are funneled out of public schools and into the criminal justice system. Many of these children have disabilities, yet instead of receiving necessary educational and counseling services, they are often punished and pushed out.
In both cases, Sumner was the school resource officer who handcuffed the children. The lawsuit seeks an order requiring a change in policies by the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office, and additional training for school resource officers in dealing with young children and children with special needs. It also seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages against Sumner.
When did it become acceptable to treat students who misbehave or act out as if they are criminals?
When the only tool you have is a hammer, perhaps even small children look like a nail. American’s should be disgusted witnessing what has come to be considered acceptable behavior on the part of law enforcement. Learning de-escalation skills should be as common as fire drills for schools and any law enforcement officers who serve them.
As tragic as these stories sound, they are sadly not isolated ones. Young autistic children often find themselves on the receiving end of police state violence while attending public school.
In January, Colton Granito, an 8-year-old boy with autism, threw a tantrum during class. Instead of following the boy’s IEP plan, police were called. Colton was handcuffed, transported to jail, and forced to sit in a cell for hours wearing a straight jacket. He was subsequently charged with assault and sentenced to probation.
The photo below is of a 10-year-old child handcuffed, laid out on the back of a police cruiser. The boy’s name is Ryan, and he has autism. He misbehaved at school and was also arrested and treated like a criminal.
In September of last year, we reported on body cam footage showing a 9-year-old special needs boy handcuffed as his father pleaded with the officer to release him.
That same month, a highly disturbing video of cops manhandling a 13-year-old autistic child as he screamed for help emerged on Facebook.
And these cases contain only autistic children. If you truly want a glimpse into the horrid effects of the police state on all school children, take a scroll through our archives, at this link.
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Until people wake up to the reality of relying on a system of violence to maintain “order,” we can expect this problem to get worse.
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