Mom Sues School Over Ten-year-old Jailed For Fighting
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 10, 2004
TEXARKANA, TEXAS--A 10-year-old boy known in court documents as "John Doe" has been held in the Bowie County Juvenile Detention Center since November 15.
According to the Texarkana Gazette, officials at C.K. Bender Elementary School claim that the boy assaulted a teacher, which is a felony, while fighting another student.
His mother says the boy is behind bars because the school doesn't know how to handle children like her son, who has mental retardation. The mother, known in court as "Jane Doe", filed suit against the school on December 1 to have her son released.
"Our position is that the school did not know what to do with him," said the boy's attorney Claudene T. Arrington. "Instead of following the IEP (Individual Education Plan), it's just easier for them to incarcerate him."
The mother contends that other children who provoked her son have not been held in detention, and that the principal and superintendent did not follow the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District's own policy regarding discipline of students receiving special education services.
She also claims that her son's equal protection rights were violated, partly because he was not allowed to have her present when police read him his rights, and that he could not have read nor understood the Miranda warnings.
Juvenile detention officials said the boy has fought with several other children while in their custody.
Arrington argued that he should not be held accountable for those fights, because he was inappropriately placed at the center.
"I think the whole process is very frightening to him and he doesn't understand it," she explained.
Bowie County District Attorney Bobby Lockhart said the boy "may have some anger control problems".
Bruce Ballou, the detention center's lead probation official, said that a child convicted of felony assault on a public official would usually serve six to eight months while receiving counseling and rehabilitative therapies.
Last week, a judge decided that the boy would remain at the detention center for at least an additional 10 days.
"Mother contests son's punishment" (Texarkana Gazette)
"DA: Judge said keep boy in custody" (Texarkana Gazette)