Friday, June 5, 2009

MI: Mom says son, 11, handcuffed to door at Detroit school

NOTE: We do not condone fighting, as was alleged in this incident, but we also don't condone punishment for fighting as handcuffing an 11 year old to a door, either...

Mark Hicks and Jennifer Mrozowski / The Detroit News

Detroit -- A Detroit Public Schools parent is considering legal action against the district after her son allegedly was handcuffed to a door at Sampson-Webber school for several hours Monday.

"It was really unnecessary to be done on a little boy," said Charmaine Hunt, whose 11-year-old son told about her about the incident Monday. "I'm not accepting that."

Hunt said about 11:40 a.m. Monday, her son, Antonio Hobson, a fourth grader at the school, was involved in a fight with another student.

She said he told her he suffered a bloodied nose and was restrained by a school security officer. But when he was deemed unruly, the principal, Regina Randall, ordered him to be handcuffed to a door in another room, Hunt said.

Randall, reached at home today, had no comment.

Hobson tried telling school officials he was hungry because he had not eaten lunch and had to use the restroom, Hunt said, but his requests initially were ignored.

"They fed him cereal and milk later on, like he's in prison or something," Hunt said, adding that her son's nose was struck when someone tried to reopen the door to the room.

The boy was released when school ended at 3:30 p.m., she said. Since learning of the incident, Hunt said she has kept her son at home, and is reluctant to send him back for the rest of the year.

"My son doesn't want to go back there. He's actually scared," Hunt said.

District spokesman Steve Wasko said he had no immediate information on the alleged incident. Hunt said two school officials -- a social worker and curriculum leader -- met with her Tuesday about the incident, saying they planned to file a complaint with the district. A call to the Detroit Public Schools' Department of Public Safety has not been returned.

An acting administrator at the school told a reporter: "There's a department at central office you contact for news," and hung up.

It also was unclear whether the other student involved in the alleged fight was disciplined.

Hunt said she plans to file a complaint, obtain an incident report, seek legal counsel and voice her concerns at a school board meeting today at the district's headquarters.

After hearing of the incident, school board member Marie Thornton said she met with Sampson-Webber staff on Wednesday to learn more.

Randall was absent, she said, and staff told her they were "fearful" of her. Thornton said the school's assistant superintendent, Sharon Appling, told her Monday's incident was being investigated.

Thornton said district officials have received complaints about Randall's conduct in the past, and Randall recently learned she would lose her position as part of emergency financial manager Robert Bobb's restructuring plan for DPS.

Thornton said she was "appalled" by the allegations and has contacted Bobb, acting district superintendent Teresa Gueyser and DPS general counsel about investigating and possible disciplinary action.

"You don't even handcuff a dog to the door," Thornton said. "It's not right." (313) 222-2269

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