"Criminal" Kids Prepare For Court
By Gerri Elder
As a parent, the last thing you'd expect is to find out that your 4-year-old child was handcuffed by police and removed from their preschool classroom; however some New York parents say that as shocking as it sounds, that's exactly what happened.
Jaden Diaz and Christopher Brito were two 4-year-old students at CS 211, The Bilingual School in the Bronx. The children told their parents that while they were at school on November 17, 2006 when a substitute teacher took them and a third child out of their regular classroom and put them in an empty classroom alone.
The children said that they were alone in the classroom for a little while, but then a school-safety officer came in, handcuffed their wrists and told them that they would never see their parents again. The "crime" that these children apparently committed was refusal to take a nap. These preschoolers were allegedly treated like criminals because they were not sleepy.
The parents of Diaz and Brito have sued the city as a result of the incident. The New York Post reports that injury lawyer Scott Agulnick is representing the children and their parents in the lawsuit.
Brito's mother is still very angry about the incident and is trying to transfer her child to a different school. She tells the New York Times that she feels that there are "monsters" in the school and that Christopher is now afraid of police officers. Christopher is now 5 but vividly remembers what happened to him at school.
Diaz is now 6 years old and also clearly remembers the incident. Jaden told his parents that a man who was dressed like a police officer came into the room and threatened the children and told them that they would have to go to jail for not taking a nap. Jaden now attends a Catholic school rather than returning to the Bronx school.
In the personal injury lawsuit against the city, the parents are seeking unspecified damages. Agulnick says that there was no reason for the children to be handcuffed or threatened, especially for something as trivial as refusing to take a nap at school.
As odd as it sounds, these children are not the first who say that they have been handcuffed at school. At a Brooklyn school a mentally challenged 10-year-old girl reported that a school-safety officer handcuffed her outside the school. In another instance, a 5-year-old boy at a school in Queens told his parents that the school-safety officer handcuffed him inside his school.
The parents of the 5-year-old child who was handcuffed at his Queens school are also suing. They have hired a lawyer to file a personal injury lawsuit against the city, NYPD and Education Department, and say they will seek $15 million in damages. According to the New York Daily News, the child suffered wrist injuries and psychological and emotional damage as a result of the January 17 incident.
Dennis Rivera reportedly threw a tantrum in his principal's office and knocked things off of the principal's desk before being handcuffed and hauled away. The kindergartner suffers from speech problems, attention deficit disorder and asthma. When he acted out, a school-safety officer allegedly handcuffed his hands behind his back and called an ambulance to take him to a psychiatric ward.
Granted, these children were probably not behaving like little angels at school when all of these alleged incidents happened. It would be highly unusual to find a child that never misbehaves or acts out. The kids are not perfect, but did they deserve to be treated like criminals? At least three will be headed to court to ask a jury that very question.