Children Cruelly Handcuffed Win Big Settlement Against the Police in Kentucky

On Thursday, a sheriff’s office in Kentucky has agreed to pay more than $337,000 for the painful and unconstitutional handcuffing of elementary school students with disabilities. The two plaintiffs, both of whom were children of color and both of whom have disabilities, were so small that the deputy sheriff locked the handcuffs around the children’s biceps, forcing their hands behind their backs. 

One of the cuffings was recorded in a video that went viral. The footage of the little boy, identified as “S.R.,” painfully squirming and sobbing in handcuffs drew national media attention and sparked debate over the role of law enforcement officers in schools.

Despite this video, and information that the deputy sheriff had handcuffed several other elementary school children — one as young as five — the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office insisted that the handcuffings were a proper use of force and refused to reconsider its policies. The ACLU, along with the Children’s Law Center and Dinsmore & Shohl, filed suit. In October 2017, a federal district court ruled that the punishment was “an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force.” 

After the handcuffings, both children had repeated nightmares, started bed-wetting, and would not let their mothers out of their sight. Both families left the school district, and moved to areas where their children could receive the treatment and accommodations they needed. 

The settlement comes as the national debate heats up over whether to boost the number of law enforcement officers in schools. The plaintiffs in this case were small children in need of support and understanding. They needed someone who understood the effects of their disability on their behavior and could help them with appropriate accommodations. Law enforcement does not have those tools.  Indeed, the tools they do have — handcuffs, batons, pepper spray, and guns — are particularly inappropriate and harmful in the school environment.

There is no evidence that putting police officers in schools makes children any safer. What we do know is that 1.7 million children attend public schools that have cops but no counselors. Three million students attend schools with law enforcement officers, but no nurses.  And six million students attend schools with law enforcement officers, but no school psychologists. 

The brunt of these staffing choices falls most heavily and students with disabilities — especially students of color with disabilities. Students with disabilities are three times more likely than students without disabilities to be referred to law enforcement. Black girls with disabilities are 3.33 times more likely to be referred to law enforcement, and Black boys with disabilities are 4.58 times more likely to be referred to law enforcement. 

The six-figure settlement is a small victory in the context of all the work that remains. But it highlights the harm of having law enforcement in schools — especially for young students with disabilities.  We hope it will also open the door to more thoughtful discussions of how schools and our country can best support and educate our youth.

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Anonymous

Your fake news as the families get 2/3 and the lawyers get 1/3. Get it right, oh you robanly work for FOX news and as previously stated sonis all a favor and don’t reproduce!

Anonymous

Then send them home. Discipline them appropriately. There is simply no call to treat children this way.

Anonymous

Please provide legitimate link to prove your comments. Until then I will just assume it is rubbish.

Anonymous

Can you source this?

Anonymous

The ACLU works pro bono. They give the entire award to the persons represented, then initiate a separate suit against the defendant in order to receive attorney fees

Anonymous

I bet what happened BEFORE the child "attacked the teacher" wasn't recorded. I have seen teachers verbally bully young children and push them to lose control. In one instance I saw a principal spend about 10 minutes winding an 11 year old boy up, telling him how horrible he was. While he begged to see his mother,she told him his mother didn't want him and was at a meeting to discuss what to do with him. She then left me alone with him in a room with 3 exits and told me to call her assistant if he left. The assistant had instructions to call the police. It was obvious she set the boy up because she wanted him out of her school.

Anonymous

The little boy in the picture couldn't have been more than 50 lbs and kicked at the adult. I saw the entire alleged assault. I believe the other child was in a wheelchair! Do you consider that assault? The district failed to provide the necessary supports needed for both kids to be successful. I know that the little boy was never even identified as needing any accommodations for his disability, even though the parent asked for help. It's easier and cheaper to just treat disabled and unsupported kids as criminals! Shame on Covington Independent School District! Worst school district in the state!

Anonymous

Paid, professional liar. trained by abusive parents to believe every bit of drivel chatted by hell-being nazis. Too bad, Your potential was thwarted.

Anonymous

are you justifying this because special needs CHILDREN got aggressive? here's a thought. don't work with special needs kids if you think brute force is the method to help them. there are special holds any special needs teacher knows to comfort and hold such a child in distress -FFS.

Anonymous

the whole truth is that kenton county cops do what the hell they want. period.

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