Mom demanding answers from school district after child was put in handcuffs

Mom demanding answers from school district after child was put in handcuffs
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 5:56 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Last week, Shari Brown got a call from her daughter’s school asking her to come pick 6-year-old Londyn up.

Brown said it’s not unusual for her daughter to have outbursts at school, and she’s worked with school administrators at College Park Elementary to find ways to address her behavior. But when Brown’s mother Bernadette Stokes arrived to pick Londyn up, she learned the situation had escalated beyond what she could have imagined.

A school resource officer met with Stokes when she arrived and told her Londyn had to be placed in handcuffs before she calmed down.

“He said, ‘well Londyn was a little out of control. She was on the desk and I had to flip the desk over and she started throwing pencils.’ I left it at that,” Stokes said. “But he said ‘I had to restrain her and handcuff her.’ I said ‘handcuff her?’”

A New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman told WECT the office reviewed the body camera footage from the incident and determined the officer responded “accordingly due to the child’s violent behavior.” He said body camera footage showed the child hitting a teacher at one point during the 20 minutes school staff spent trying to calm her down. She also stood on a desk and began throwing things.

The officer put handcuffs on the child after a teacher asked him to do so, and removed them less than two minutes later.

But Brown said she doesn’t believe Londyn’s behavior ever constituted putting the 6-year-old in handcuffs.

“As a parent you want your child to be safe. You want your child to learn. You want your child to become somebody,” she said. “You don’t want them to go to school and think ‘oh, I’m going to get arrested, I’m going to go to jail, they’re going to hurt me.’”

New Hanover County Schools declined to comment, citing student privacy laws. School board policy does permit staff to use mechanical restraints in certain instances including:

  • when properly used as an assistive technology device included in the student’s IEP, Section 504 plan, or behavior intervention plan, or as otherwise prescribed by a medical or related service provider;
  • when using seat belts or other safety restraints to secure a student during transportation;
  • as reasonably needed to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects on the person or within the control of a student;
  • as reasonably needed for self-defense; or
  • as reasonably needed to ensure the safety of any student, employee, volunteer, or other person.

Brown said Londyn hasn’t gone back to school since then. She described her daughter having nightmares and feeling scared to go to school.

Now, she says she wants answers so she can protect her daughter going forward.

“I mean, I’m just going to go from here,” Brown said. “Whatever that is, I’m not going to just let this be swept under the rug. It’s not going to be. They’re going to hear about this and keep hearing about this.”