Parents Of 6 Year Old Boy Shackled And Handcuffed In School File Federal Lawsuit Against Superintendent And Other School Officials

6 year old Ja’Briel Weston describes his ordeal while talking to reporters in May

Nola.com: The father of a first-grade boy who was handcuffed and shackled to a chair by a security officer at Sarah T. Reed Elementary school in May has filed a federal lawsuit against Recovery School District Superintendent Paul Vallas and other school officials.

Sebastian Weston and Robin Weston talk about their son being handcuffed and shackled for unruly behavior by a RSD security officer at Reed Elementary School at a press conference at the Urban League offices in New Orleans, Thursday. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Juvenile justice Project of Louisiana filed a civil rights class action lawsuit this morning to “vindicate the rights of our client and all schoolchildren who attend Sarah T. Reed Elementary School.”– Ted Jackson / The Times-Picayune

The suit, filed by Sebastian Weston in federal court today, alleges that Reed’s principal, Daphyne Burnett, enforced a policy of handcuffing misbehaving students. The suit claims that Burnett ordered a school security officer, identified only as “Jane Doe,” to chain the boy by his ankle to a chair on May 4 after he failed to follow his teacher’s directions.

Two days later, on May 6, the boy was handcuffed and shackled by another security officer, identified as “Defendant Willis,” after arguing with another student in the cafeteria, according to the suit.

Willis acted at Burnett’s direction and the boy was shackled in Burnett’s office, the suit claims.

Burnett is also a defendant in the lawsuit, along with the RSD’s security director, former NOPD chief Eddie Compass, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the two security officers allegedly involved in the incidents.

The Weston family’s attorneys, Thena Robinson of the Southern Poverty Law Center and Carol Kolinchak of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, argue that the incident is part of a long-running RSD policy to physically restrain and sometimes arrest students who are only guilty of minor misbehavior. They are seeking to have the lawsuit certified as a class action.

One of the security officers involved in the incident was fired. Ken Jones, a spokesman for the RSD, would not say which officer was fired.

Jones issued the following statement:

“The Louisiana Recovery School District investigated the allegations involving a student at Sarah T. Reed Elementary school last semester. The RSD concluded that this was an isolated incident, the student was not arrested and the employee involved was terminated. In reference to the announcement of a lawsuit filed in this matter the RSD does not comment on pending litigation.”

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