Suit alleges chokehold used on 10-year-old with disabilities

May 12, 2022 - 01:10 PM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Civil rights advocates are suing the school board and sheriff’s office in Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish over the alleged mistreatment — including the use of a chokehold and handcuffs — on a 10-year-old Black student with disabilities.

The lawsuit, announced Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, says the child’s disabilities include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mood disorder. It says the child regularly ate lunch in administrative offices to limit his contact with other students. It says that on May 13, 2021, he was visibly distraught and angry after having been bullied by another student.

After being admonished, he began throwing things and struck the school principal in her office before walking out, according to the lawsuit.

The suit says instead of seeking help from counselors or special education personnel, school officials dialed 911. A responding officer from the sheriff’s office put the 5th-grader in a choke hold and handcuffed him, according to the lawsuit.

The federal court suit was filed in New Orleans on Monday on behalf of the child’s parents by lawyers with the ACLU Foundation of Louisiana and the Tulane Law Clinic. It seeks unspecified damages for the incident at Congetta Trippe Janet Elementary School and a declaration that the defendants’ “inadequate and harmful response to individuals with disabilities” violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Spokesmen for the school board and sheriff’s office declined comment on the pending litigation.

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