A Walpole, Massachusetts public school is now under scrutiny after an event that took place earlier this year raised red flags. A local civil rights group is defending the family of a 9-year-old special-needs Black student who was placed in handcuffs during a mental health crisis. To make matters worse, he was then transported to a hospital and held in a unit reserved for adults before his mother was able to pick him up.
On Saturday (May 6), NBC 10 Boston noted that the incident happened at the start of the year on Jan. 12. A Massachusetts school resource officer was called in to assist the unnamed minor but then called the police for backup. After the little boy was restrained in handcuffs, his family sought help from Lawyers for Civil Rights. Last week, Erika Richmond, an attorney with the group, shared a press release condemning the “adultification” of Black children. She claimed officials described the student as “big for his age” and “stronger than he looks.”
“The actions taken by Walpole Public Schools and the Walpole Police Department against this 9-year-old boy were egregious, age-inappropriate, and directly contradicted the school’s own guidance for regulating his behavior. Because of this bias, a situation that could easily have been de-escalated instead led to a young Black boy being handcuffed and held in adult custody,” Richmond continued in her statement.
In an attempt to rectify the situation, the family is calling for “wide-ranging reform” as well as an acknowledgment of accountability from the Walpole Public Schools District and the Walpole Police Department. Richmond further explained the situation to the Massachusetts news station, saying the child, who suffers from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder among other issues, has a fear of police. When officers came to the classroom, he tried to leave, resulting in him being placed in handcuffs and taken to an adult psychiatric ward.
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