ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando academy and a fired school resource officer are at odds about whether school officials wanted to press charges against a 6-year-old girl who was arrested during a temper tantrum.
An arrest report for 6-year-old Kaia Rolle provides a brief description of the events that led up to her arrest Thursday at Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy.
Officer Dennis Turner wrote in his report that Kaia "battered three staff members by kicking and punching them without permission."
Meralyn Kirkland said her granddaughter was having a temper tantrum during the incident, a side effect of her sleep apnea.
An attorney for the Orlando charter school released a statement Tuesday indicating that the principal didn't want Kaia or a 6-year-old boy who was handcuffed the same day in an unrelated incident to be arrested.
However, in Turner's report, he wrote that Beverly Stoute, whom he identified as an assistant principal, was the victim in the case and she wanted to press charges because Kaia kicked her on the legs and punched her arms several times.
Sara Brady, a spokeswoman for the school, described the report as inaccurate in a statement released on behalf of Stoute and kindergarten teacher LaTrice Smith.
"We care about the well-being of our students. The officer's statements are inaccurate. We did not ask for either student to be arrested neither did we want to pursue criminal charges," the statement read.
Brady also clarified that Stoute is not an assistant principal but rather a support staffer.
The spokeswoman also provided a second written statement on behalf of the school:
"At Lucious & Emma Nixon Academy, our administrative and teaching staff are experienced and well-aware that occasionally students may act out in disruptive ways. If disruptive behavior occurs, there are variety of ways we provide intervention, redirection and or site-based discipline to students, none of which involves having our children arrested. Never did anyone within our organization request or direct the School Resource Officer to arrest any student. We are proud of the classroom culture we have created at our Academy and the manner in which we care for our students."
Details about the 6-year-old boy's arrest have not been released.
State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced Monday that her office would not pursue charges against either child. Shortly thereafter, Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolon said Turner had been fired for violating the department's juvenile arrest policy by not getting approval from a watch commander.
Darryl R. Smith, Esq, attorney for Kaia and her family released a statement Wednesday night.
We are currently in the process of working with the State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to get this arrest removed off of Kaia's record as soon as possible, so the family can begin the process of healing from this unfortunate incident. Although this has been a very difficult time for Kaia and her family, we hope that this inspires policy changes to prevent what happened to Kaia from happening to other children in the future.
There is a major flaw in our current juvenile justice system in Florida. There is no minimum age requirement for police to arrest in Florida, meaning kids as young as 5 and 6 years old can be arrested by police even for petty misdemeanor charges such as battery. These laws need to change to set a minimum arrest age for misdemeanor offenses, so that kids can be free to be kids, and that an occasional temper tantrum does not result in an innocent child being arrested.
Typically the expungement process takes 6 months or more to remove an arrest record. We are hopeful that FDLE will recognize the special circumstances of Kaia's case and expedite the process to get her record expunged immediately.