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Mother of 10-year-old special needs student handcuffed says it was unnecessary, plans weren’t followed

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 7:17 PM EDT
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WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Civil rights groups are calling for change after a 10-year-old special needs girl was handcuffed by police.

The child’s mother and group leaders say teachers should have handled the situation, not the police. They said school resource officers are there to protect children — not discipline children.

Springdale Elementary is under fire for handcuffing a 10-year-old special needs student, Angel, who allegedly scratched other students, bit a teacher, and pulled a teacher’s hair.

Angel’s mother believes proper steps were not taken in the situation.

“My daughter has a crisis plan in place and none of those were implemented that day on May 12,” Angel’s mother said.

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Another special needs parent who has been involved with two instances with Angel said it’s not her fault and that the district needs better training and communication.

“It’s the incompetence of the district because these things continue to happen,” Ken Edmonds said. “They won’t comment on what they are doing. They use HIPAA as an excuse and say they are protecting students, but they’re not.”

Civil rights organization One Common Cause held a press conference to express their anger and frustration with the way Springdale Elementary School officials handled the situation.

“The American Pediatric Association outlines proper restraints for adolescents, and nowhere does it show that handcuffs are proper restraints for a 9-year-old,” Sonya Lewis said.

Other civil rights groups are also coming to Angel’s defense.

“When she was having an emotional breakdown (the principal) called police instead of following the plan they have in place,” Shenee Ryan with Black Lives Matter South Carolina said.

Springdale Police say its officers don’t make it common practice to handcuff elementary students but it was necessary to keep students safe.

Springdale Elementary has declined to speak about the incident but the district said it’s committed to keeping students safe. The school also says it is investigating the incident.

Angel’s mother says she has removed her daughter from the school for the remainder of the year.

She said the school has yet to show her the body camera footage or surveillance video of her daughter being handcuffed.

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