Sheriff’s Office To Pay For Handcuffing Students With Special Needs
COVINGTON, Ky. — The Kenton County Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay more than $337,000 “for the painful and unconstitutional handcuffing of elementary school students with disabilities,” an ACLU disability attorney said.
The children “were so small that the deputy sheriff locked the handcuffs around the children’s biceps, forcing their hands behind their backs,” Susan Mizner wrote in announcing the recent settlement.
The plaintiffs suing through their mothers were two elementary school children with disabilities who were handcuffed by a deputy sheriff school resource officer while attending schools within the Covington Independent Public School District in Covington, according to court records.
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A video of a handcuffed boy identified as “S.R.” drew national attention.
The Herald-Leader reported last year that U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman said the cuffing of two students with disabilities by a school resource officer in Kenton County in 2014 “was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force.”
Kenton County officials could not immediately be reached. After the video of S.R.’s handcuffing was released to the media in August 2015, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn issued a news release saying he stood behind the deputy who responded to the school’s request for help, according to Bertelsman’s 2017 ruling.
The lawsuit was filed in August 2015 by the Children’s Law Center, the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl, and the American Civil Liberties Union, and the case prompted a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the school district’s disciplinary practices.
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, a 2017 news release said.
The children who were handcuffed had repeated nightmares, bed-wetting incidents and fear of leaving their mothers, the ACLU said. The families moved so the students wouldn’t have to attend the schools.
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