STANARDSVILLE, Va. — After being contacted by attorneys with The Rutherford Institute, officials with the Greene County Public Schools have agreed to rescind the suspension of a four-year-old preschool student who, after allegedly acting up in class, was handcuffed and shackled by a school resource officer and transported to the sheriff’s office. School officials have also agreed to remove the documentation of the disciplinary action from the child’s records. Moreover, school officials have indicated they would undertake a review of the division’s restraint policy and practices, all the while asserting that they never approved of or directed the use of such restraints as a method of managing student behavior problems. Nevertheless, the administration is defending the decision by school officials to have the school resource officer intervene in the incident involving the four-year-old. Rutherford Institute attorneys will continue to advise the four-year-old’s mother regarding her legal options regarding the use of force by the sheriff’s deputy.
“This is not an isolated incident. Every week, The Rutherford Institute is asked to intervene in yet another case in which a child is suspended, handcuffed, arrested and subjected to all manner of injustices for daring to act like children: asking questions, using their imaginations, refusing to be politically correct, and telling the truth,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “With many of America’s schools now looking more like prisons than learning facilities, with metal detectors at the entrances, drug-sniffing dogs in the hallways and surveillance cameras in the classrooms and elsewhere, it’s no wonder our young people are being treated like criminals and are growing up believing that they have no rights.”
The incident occurred on October 16, 2014, while four-year-old C.B. was in one of the pre-Kindergarten programs at Nathanael Greene Primary School. According to school officials, C.B. was removed from the classroom after allegedly becoming agitated and throwing several items onto the floor. School personnel then telephoned C.B.’s mother, Tracy Wood, who indicated she would come and get the child. Although school personnel knew C.B.’s mother was en route to NGPS, they called in the school’s resource officer, a Greene County deputy sheriff, to confront the preschooler. The sight of the law enforcement officer reportedly only served to agitate C.B. further. Instead of employing positive reinforcement, a bear hug or some other method of control appropriate for children, the officer escalated the situation by treating the 4-year-old as if he were being arrested: handcuffing C.B. and transporting him in a police car to a Greene County Sheriff’s office. Upon arriving at NGPS, Ms. Wood was stunned to learn that her son had been transported to the Sheriff’s office. After a frantic trip to the police station, Ms. Wood arrived to find her son traumatized and in leg shackles, like an inmate being transported for a court appearance. To her dismay, Ms. Wood learned that not only had the 4-year-old been handcuffed and shackled for about 20 minutes, but that the police officer had allegedly forced C.B. to speak with persons who had been arrested in an apparent attempt to “scare straight” the preschooler. Incredibly, C.B. was held in handcuffs or shackles for about 20 minutes. Rather than recognizing the imprudence of treating a young child like a hardened criminal, school officials and the sheriff’s office not only defended their actions but actually suspended C.B. from the pre-K program and instructed his mother to seek “homebound instruction” for him. In coming to C.B.’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys asked that school officials rescind the suspension, remove any indication of the incident from C.B.’s records, and implement policies making it clear that handcuffing, shackling and other similar excessive restraint techniques are never appropriate when dealing with children of tender years.