DAYTON — An incident at a Dayton elementary school that ended with a student in handcuffs has renewed focus on the public school district’s policy regarding discipline and the role of police in school buildings.
DPS spokeswoman Jill Drury said the district’s investigation shows the incident, which occurred at Valerie Elementary in October 2016, involved a fourth-grader who was in emotional distress in a classroom. The teacher and a school security resource officer could not calm the student, according to the investigation.
They escorted all the other students to another classroom, then again worked to calm the student, even using a training technique involving a bear hug.
Drury said when that failed, the student was placed in handcuffs and walked to the office. Once there, the bracelets were removed because the student calmed down quickly.
The district has no specific policy on restraining students, Drury said, but decisions about how to respond to disruptive students is based on the Security Resource Officer’s training. In this case, she said, the SRO is fully certified as a CPI instructor through CPI Incorporated.
A local group called Racial Justice NOW has raised concerns about the incident, which recently came to light, and has protested at the school and at school board meetings. Organization director Hashim Jabar said the group believes placing a young child in handcuffs causes emotional trauma and sends a wrong message.
He said the group also believes the district is not addressing their concerns.
Members of the group were present Tuesday night at a school board work session on the issue.
Ty Alston, who identified himself as the group’s organizer, said he was disappointed.
“We asked for a policy change or at least a discussion on policy on handcuffing of elementary school students, but that couldn’t even be done,” he said.
The organization has talked about pushing for a protocol that involves using something called a “sensory room,” where children with behavioral problems or who pose behavioral issues are taken to calm them, rather than having a SRO use handcuffs on young children.
“We will continue to push,” Alston said.