COVINGTON, KY — A shocking video shows how a third-grader in public school, who suffered from ADHD and other special needs, was shackled above his elbows by a police officer as he writhed and screamed in agony.
“Now you can either behave the way you know you’re supposed to, or you can suffer the consequences,” Kenton County Deputy Sheriff Kevin Sumner said as he stared down at the sobbing boy.
The boy, age 8, is identified only as S.R. in a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Children’s Law Center, and Dinsmore & Shohl. A second victim, a 9-year-old girl identified as L.G., faced similar treatment by the same school resource officer.
The lawsuit alleges that the two child victims were so small that the deputy locked the handcuffs around their biceps and forced their hands behind their backs. L.G. faced this treatment on two occasions.
Both children were being punished for behavior related to their disabilities, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a history of trauma, and other special needs. Neither was arrested nor charged with any criminal conduct.
“Shackling children is not okay. It is traumatizing, and in this case it is also illegal,” said Susan Mizner, disability counsel for the ACLU. “Using law enforcement to discipline students with disabilities only serves to traumatize children. It makes behavioral issues worse and interferes with the school’s role in developing appropriate educational and behavioral plans for them.”
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.
Government schools are have become known for controversial treatment of special-needs children. In a story previously covered here, young children who misbehaved at school were locked in padded cells known as “isolation booths” — some no bigger than a broom closet.
The lawsuit seeks a court order to require a policy change by the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office, and additional training for school resource officers in dealing with young children and children with special needs — in a way that is not “harmful and unnecessary.” It also seeks an unspecified monetary damages against Deputy Sumner.
See the raw video below: