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Federal Judge Rules Cuffing of Young Elementary Students Unconstitutional

Covington, KY- October 13, 2017- The Federal District Court Judge presiding over S.R. et. al v. Kenton County issued an opinion Wednesday granting the child-Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment, ruling that the cuffing of two students with disabilities by a school resource officer was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Court also ruled that Kenton County is liable for the deputy sheriff’s unconstitutional conduct.

“Even as young children, both were certain that what the deputy did to them was wrong” said Rickell Howard Smith, litigation director for the Children’s Law Center and counsel for the child-Plaintiffs. “I am glad to be able to tell them that the federal judge agrees with them.”

The children, an 8-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl were handcuffed above the elbow behind their backs. A disturbing video shows the boy, S.R., crying out in pain. The girl, L.G, was twice handcuffed above the elbow, also causing her pain. Both children were being punished for behavior related to their disabilities.

“We are gratified that the judge found, as a matter of law, that this was a violation of the 4th Amendment” said Claudia Center, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Disability Rights Program. “We knew this was unconstitutional behavior. Anyone who viewed the video could see it was tantamount to torture.”

The lawsuit was filed in August 2015 by the Children’s Law Center, Dinsmore & Shohl, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which prompted a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the school districts disciplinary practices, including the use of police to deal with routine student misbehavior. In January 2017, Covington Independent Schools entered into an agreement with DOJ and began implementing new policies to ensure that disciplinary practices do not discriminate against children with disabilities.

"This is a great day for our clients and the elementary school children of Kentucky” said Kenyon Meyer of Dinsmore Shohl. “The court confirmed that using law enforcement tactics to discipline young children in this manner has no place in our schools."

A copy of the decision can be found at www.childrenslawky.org. For more information, contact: Rickell Howard or Acena Beck, Children's Law Center, 859-431-3313, rhoward@childrenslawky.org or abeck@childrenslawky.org Kenyon Meyer, Dinsmore & Shohl, 502-540-2300, kenyon.meyer@dinsmore.com Claudia Center, ACLU, (415) 343-0762, ccenter@aclu.org Susan Mizner, ACLU, 646-421-9387, smizner@aclu.org

See the opinion HERE

 


 

 

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Children’s Law Center, Inc. (CLC), established in 1989, is a non-profit legal service center protecting the rights of children and youth to help them overcome barriers and transition into adulthood, better advocate for their needs, and successfully contribute to society. It provides individual legal advocacy to children and youth, and through public policy work, training and education, impact litigation, and juvenile defender support services, seeks to improve the systems that serve them. CLC offers services in both Kentucky and Ohio, and collaborates with other organizations within the region and nationally on a variety of topics.

 

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