ACLU suing Kansas City Public Schools for handcuffing 7-year-old boy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A second-grader who refused a teacher’s request to move to a different chair suffered emotional and physical pain when a school resource officer placed the 7-year-old in handcuffs, a lawsuit filed Thursday against Kansas City Public Schools alleges.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, names the school district, school resource officer Brandon Craddock and George Melcher Elementary School principal Anne Wallace. It seeks damages and attorney fees and requests the district provide better training for its resource officers on schoolchildren’s constitutional rights.

District spokeswoman Natalie Allen said it does not comment on pending litigation, adding that officials hadn’t seen the lawsuit.

According to the suit, the boy, who was less than 4 feet tall and weighed less than 50 pounds, was told on April 30, 2014, to change seats and sit near another student who had bullied him in the past. The boy remained at his desk and started “crying and hollering,” even after Craddock came into the room and asked the boy to come with him.

The boy eventually went into the hall but was frightened and tried to walk away, the suit claims. Craddock said in his report of the incident that he warned the boy several times to calm down and stop walking away, but the boy instead tried to push past him.

Craddock grabbed the boy by the wrist, causing the boy to cry harder and try to pull away, the lawsuit said. After the boy reached out and grabbed a handrail as they made their way down the hall, the officer cuffed the boy’s arms behind his back and took him to Wallace’s office.

“This child committed no crime, threatened no one, and posed no danger to anyone,” ACLU of Missouri legal director Tony Rothert said. “Gratuitously handcuffing children is cowardly and violates the constitution.”

Craddock told Wallace the boy was “out of control in his classroom and refused to follow my directions,” the suit said.

The boy sat with his hands behind his back for 10 to 15 minutes until his father came to pick him up.

The boy’s mother, Tomesha Primm, removed him from the school and homeschooled him for the next two years, the suit said.

“Our children need trained and concerned figures in schools that know how to intervene. It’s not OK to abuse your authority and handcuff kids as a means of discipline,” she said in the suit.