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Chicago Public Schools Sued for Alleged Handcuffing of First-Grader

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The attorney for a family suing Chicago Public Schools over the alleged handcuffing of a first-grader in 2010 said Tuesday the boy was among several 6- and 7-year-olds who were detained and handcuffed for hours for talking in class.

In an email to the Tribune, attorney Michael Carin said school officials at Carver Primary School on Chicago's far South Side authorized the on-campus security guard in March 2010 to discipline some first-graders who were being disruptive.

Giving details not disclosed in the lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, Carin said the school's security officer removed the students from class and held them in another office on campus where there were no other adults present. Carin said the students were handcuffed for hours and told that "they were going to prison and would never see their parents again."

"There appears to be no reason for an officer to isolate 6- and 7-year-old children, place them in handcuffs and threaten them for hours during a school day, or any other day," Carin wrote.

Carin said the Chicago Board of Education had ignored attempts to resolve this case outside the courtroom.

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"Unfortunately, we had to file a lawsuit because the Chicago Board of Education ignored my client on the day of the imprisonment and every day thereafter," Carin wrote. "We hope the Chicago Board of Education acknowledges its responsibility and resolves the matter quickly."

In the complaint, the boy's mother, LaShanda Smith, describes the guard's action as "reckless" and said her son suffered injuries both "permanent" and "personal" during the incident. Smith, who is seeking more than $100,000 in damages, accuses the officer of acting "in conscious disregard" of her son's safety.

CPS and the Board of Education are defendants in the case. Neither the security officer nor school administrators are named as defendants.

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said again Tuesday that school officials have not yet seen the complaint and need to review it before commenting.

Calls to Carver Primary School were not returned.

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