A Virginia pre-school student was handcuffed and shackled by a police officer and then taken to the Sheriff’s office after allegedly acting out last October. While at the Sheriff’s office, the 4-year old was allegedly forced to talk to prison inmates in an effort to scare him straight.
The school claims that the 4-year-old was placed in the shackles after an outburst during which he threw blocks, climbed over desks, hit, scratched and kicked the principal and the director of special education.
The child has Attention Deficit Disorder and has had behavior problems in the past.
Despite this, parents are expressing concern about how both the police and school administrators handled the situation. This includes the student's mother, Tracy Wood, who said she was “appalled" by the way her son was treated and told reporters that the incident has left her child with nightmares.
“My son is a very, loving, caring, protective little boy,” said wood. “He deserves to go to school and feel safe and know that he’ll come back to his mommy, he won’t be carted off like a criminal.”
Despite parental outrage, Greene County Sheriff, Steve Smith is defending the actions of the police officer who was stationed at the school.
“I think he did the right thing. He kept the child calm,” Smith said. “You just can’t write a policy on that.”
School administrators are defending the decision, as well.
“As a means of enhancing student safety, we have a memorandum of understanding with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and three school resource officers are placed within our schools,” said Greene County School Superintendent, Andrea Whitmarsh in an email sent to reporters on Monday . “The primary duty of the SRO is to handle calls within the school, provide law enforcement expertise, perform building checks and patrols, deter and prevent criminal activity, and promote a safe and secure environment for learning.”
The incident has caught the attention of The Rutherford Institute, a legal defense organization that specializes in cases involving civil liberties and human rights. The organization’s President, John W. Whitehead, released this statement in a press release, announcing that the Rutherford Institute would be defending the boy.
In a letter to the school, Rutherford says that the child has been traumatized by the event and is suffering nightmares. It also calls on the school to lift the 4-year-old's suspension and take steps to ensure this incident isn’t repeated with other children.
“A four year-old boy clearly poses no grave threat to a trained Sheriff’s deputy,” but, “The psychological ramifications of handcuffing and shacking a preschooler are far-reaching,” it notes.
According to Wood’s mother her son has been suspended from the school indefinitely.