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J.W. v. Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, et al.

Children at Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans were subjected to unlawful arrest and excessive force – including handcuffing and shackling – for minor violations of school rules.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of a first-grade student handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer after the student argued with another youth in the school lunchroom.

The boy, known as J.W. in the court filing, was just 6 years old when the incident occurred. He had previously been handcuffed and shackled for a similar incident. School officials told the boy’s father that such punishment was required under school rules. The school is part of the Louisiana Recovery School District. J.W. was deeply traumatized by the incident.

A settlement agreement was reached on October 25, 2010. Through the settlement, the school district has prohibited the use of fixed restraints and has limited the use of handcuffs. The district will also provide formal training to all security personnel on proper discipline practices.