even the police in Washington are going bonkers
as police devolve in "community standing" everywhere these days, it's
interesting to note that Portland's police are not alone in the "being
crazy" department...here is reposting that will grab your attention!
reposting from SEATTLE TIMES report taken from www.rawstory.com
Handcuffs were used on Kent elementary students
By J. Patrick Coolican
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Kent School District, already facing criticism for handcuffing middle- and high-school students, said the metal restraints have been used five times this school year on elementary students.
A description of the only instance at an elementary school that is documented, obtained through a public-records request, reveals a fifth-grader handcuffed despite his principal asking that he not be because of a medical condition.
The student was described as 4 feet 10 inches tall and 80 pounds. When he refused to get into security officer Holly Hoel's car to be driven home, "I put the handcuffs on him with his hands behind his back and locked the cuffs," Hoel wrote in her report.
In one case where handcuffs were used, the student was found with a 3-inch knife. In another case, the student's parents asked that he be handcuffed.
Kent schools Superintendent Barbara Grohe said she was certain handcuffs were used on elementary-age children "absolutely as a last resort" to prevent them from hurting themselves, other students or district staff.
The elementary-school handcuffings by district security officers, who are school employees and not police officers, are in addition to handcuffing incidents reported at middle and high schools, bringing the districtwide estimate to 38 to 49 incidents since September.
The use of force by Kent security officers, especially in incidents involving students of color, is under scrutiny because of legal claims filed last month by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Seattle branch on behalf of nine families of African-American students.
The claims charge that the district has targeted black children with overly aggressive discipline, and seek $39.6 million in damages. The district has 60 days from when the claims were filed last month to reply; after that, the families can file lawsuits.
Grohe said she plans to convene a diverse panel of community members to examine discipline and security in the district, the state's fourth-largest with more than 26,000 students. She also expects to appoint an independent investigator to look into the allegations made in the claims.
She said she has been delayed in naming the group because "I want to be sure they're seen as truly independent.
"Let's just say there's a heightened awareness that we're going to be reporting these more clearly and, yes, reporting them to me," said Grohe, who added she was not informed of all the incidents when they occurred.
As with its use of handcuffs in middle and high schools, the district says it doesn't consider handcuffing elementary students a "use of force," and so doesn't have written reports for all of the incidents. The information on handcuffing elementary students came from Becky Hanks, a district spokeswoman who said she obtained it from security officers.
Of the five incidents involving elementary students, there were two each at Grass Lake and Springbrook elementary schools, and one at Millennium. Three of the students were black, one was white; one student was handcuffed twice.
The district wouldn't give the ages or grade levels of the students, citing a state law it said prevents it from providing such information.
The security officers involved were Dana Harrison, who handcuffed three students; and Holly Hoel and Tim Kovich, who each handcuffed one student. They are all roving officers in the district's 28 elementary schools. The officers did not respond to messages left for them at home or work.
In the handcuffing incident involving the Springbrook student, Hoel wrote that school principal Gaynell Walker had requested that the student, an African-American, be driven home after the student allegedly assaulted a teacher, although security wasn't notified of the assault.
"Gaynell stated the student was still agitated, and she did not want the student handcuffed during the transport. Apparently, (the student) has a medical condition which can be aggravated upon restraint," Hoel wrote in the report.
After being handcuffed anyway, the child was driven home, then released from the handcuffs and turned over to his stepfather, according to the report. The security officers report to the district director of security and are not answerable to school principals.
Not widely used
A school-discipline expert said handcuffing students is "not common practice" and "incomprehensible."
"It doesn't improve the learning environment for anybody," said James Kauffman, a professor emeritus of education at the University of Virginia who has studied school discipline and students with emotional and behavioral problems.
Handcuffing would tend "to make the incident high profile and make the kid a hero among anti-social elements. It's not helpful. It's destructive," he said.
The use of handcuffs by security officers in elementary schools is not common in Washington school districts around Kent's size or larger. Security officers in the Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver and Bellevue districts don't use handcuffs at all.
Security officers in Highline have handcuffed one elementary-school student this year, and King County deputies were called to an elementary school once this year to restrain a student, a district spokeswoman said. Neither Federal Way, which recently ceased using handcuffs, nor Renton have used them on an elementary-school student this year.
J. Patrick Coolican: 206-464-3315 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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