Nation

Miami school defends handcuffing, detaining seven-year-old

MIAMI— School district officials in Miami say they followed standard protocol last week when a 7-year-old boy was placed in handcuffs and removed from his school after he punched his teacher repeatedly in the back, kicked her, and grabbed her hair.

The incident began Thursday, when a teacher at the Coral Way K-8 Center told the first-grader to stop playing with his food in the cafeteria.

When the child refused to stop, he was taken from the cafeteria, according to an incident report from a Miami-Dade County Public Schools police officer.

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The report says the boy hit the teacher repeatedly in the back in a hallway outside the cafeteria. The child continued punching and kicking the teacher until they both fell.

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Eventually the boy was hospitalized at Miami Children’s Hospital under the Florida Mental Health Act, based on behavioral criteria that indicated he could pose a threat to himself or others, school district officials said.

The child’s mother, Mercy Alvarez, said her son doesn’t have a mental disorder and called is arrest ‘‘police abuse.’’

‘‘If my child wasn’t aggressive anymore when we got there, like they were saying he was before, why take such extreme measures?’’ she said.

Alvarez said her son didn’t show aggressive behavior at home. She said she is looking into why her son began having problems there since the school year started. She says that in previous years he got good grades, participated in other activities, and showed good conduct.

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‘‘This is too much for a boy that age to go through. It can’t be a normal procedure,’’ she said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS