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Fallout from handcuffing of young disabled students

There are many ways to promote the needs of a student with disabilities.

Handcuffing that student is assuredly not one of them.

Many readers of our blog in California and elsewhere likely heard news recently circulating out of Kentucky concerning the treatment of two students with confirmed disabilities at a school in that state.

It is further likely that many of those readers had a strong and immediate reaction to media accounts describing the shackling of an 8-year-od boy and a 9-year-old girl, respectively, at that school, for conduct that an onsite resource officer found objectionable.

Students with disabilities have the right to a meaningful and appropriate education pursuant to special education laws that apply across the country. It would seem flatly difficult for any police officer or school official to argue that any behavior on the part of a young child would qualify for a reciprocal response from an adult disciplinarian stressing a first-recourse strategy focused upon handcuffing.

The Kentucky case is singular, notes one commentator, because of "the existence of [a] video" that was taken by a school official. The video played an obviously commanding role in the handcuffing incidents becoming high-profile new stories. Its presence also likely makes many people wonder how many cases of a similar nature go undetected in schools across the country.

Unsurprisingly, there is adverse fallout in the case, with the American Civil Liberties Union filing a federal lawsuit contending that the shackling violated the children's constitutional rights and undermined the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit cites the resource officer, a local sheriff and a county law enforcement department as defendants. The school district is not targeted in the complaint.

Source: The New York Times, "A.C.L.U. sues over handcuffing of boy, 8, and girl, 9, in Kentucky school," Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Aug. 3, 2015

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