SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Two parents are suing the city of Oviedo after their 9-year-old child was handcuffed by a school resource officer earlier this year, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The lawsuit states that the child was a fourth-grade student at Stenstrom Elementary School. The document shows that the student had an Individual Educational Plan and a Behavioral Intervention Plan, which identified “physical aggression” as one such behavioral problem.
Due to those plans, school faculty were told to “not engage in any conversation other than having him complete the task” when confronted with the aggression, according to the lawsuit.
In February, the student began “exhibiting physical aggression,” and staff sent the student to the school’s mailroom per the BIP, using Ukeru mats to block the aggression, court records say.
However, a school resource officer — Yashira Moncada — arrived at the mailroom and turned on her bodycam, which recorded her saying, “This is why I can’t be an SRO,” and asking the student if he wanted to go to jail, according to the records.
Another officer — Scott Moseley — arrived soon after, and despite warnings from a school counselor, he proceeded to handcuff the student behind his back and place him on the floor, the lawsuit explains.
According to court records, the SRO agreement between the City of Oviedo and the school district required that handcuffs not be used on disabled students in grades 5 and below.
Additionally, Oviedo police protocols dictate that children under 12 years of age may not be placed in handcuffs unless they pose a danger to those around them.
According to the parents, the student said he wanted to go home, at which point Moncada asked, “You’re not going to go home, so do you want to go to jail?”
The parents also said that Moseley tried to lift the student by his hands — which were still behind his back — leading the child to yell out in pain.
In a meeting between the parents and school personnel afterward, Moncada told the parents that they were lucky the student hadn’t been arrested, court records show.
The lawsuit claims that Moncada and Moseley used “unnecessary and unreasonable” force when dealing with the student, which resulted in “physical and emotional abuse and injury, mental anguish, violation of (his) right, humiliation, discomfort, embarrassment, loss of dignity, aggravation of an existing disease or mental effect, and medical expenses.”
Due to the incident, the parents are seeking compensation for the damages, attorney fees and other associated costs.
News 6 has reached out to the parents’ attorney and the police department for comment and is awaiting responses.
Meanwhile, the district told News 6 that it cannot provide statements or commentary on pending litigation.
In Florida, law enforcement is banned from arresting children under the age of 7. The law was put in place after an Orlando girl was put in zip ties by a police officer for throwing a tantrum in class.
Earlier this month, the family of that girl announced they would fight to get the minimum age for arrest increased to 14.
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