The Jackson, Mississippi school district agreed Friday to a settlement with the Southern Poverty Law Center after having been sued over their practice of cuffing kids to poles in one alternative school.
The suit was filed in June, 2011, by Jeanette Murry on behalf of her 16-year-old son. The son suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was routinely restrained for hours for even minor offenses such as dress code violations. Murry was also forced to eat lunch while chained to a stair railing and then shout for attention when he needed to use the restroom.
The settlement agreement which U.S. District Judge Tom Lee approved, says that all employees will immediately cease handcuffing students younger than 13. For those students over 13, they can only be handcuffed if they’ve committed a crime. No matter what occurs employees will no longer be permitted to cuff a student to a fixed object. The settlement further stipulates that the district must tell the principal and vice principal at the school that they will be fired if they ever again use fixed restraints.
The problem is not limited to Jackson, Mississippi. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education showed that tens of thousands of students, 70% of them suffering from a disability, were strapped down or physically restrained in school in 2009-10. There are currently no federal standards for appropriate teacher behavior though one bill on the subject is pending in Congress. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Mississippi is one of just 13 states with no statewide rules governing proper procedure for restraining students.
Many experts on the subject believe that seclusion and restraint should only be employed in emergencies when there is a threat of someone getting hurt. Too often inexperienced educators rush to severe punishment which can result in injuries, especially among disabled children. If you or some you know has been injured, you need the help of a Mississippi injury attorney knowledgeable of the state’s confusing personal injury law to help protect your rights and recover damages for your injury.
Source: “Mississippi Student Handcuffing Case: Jackson Public Schools Agrees To Stop Shackling Students For Non-Crimes,” by Jeff Amy, published at HuffingtonPost.com.