A 7-year-old boy was handcuffed and removed from an elementary school in Miami after authorities say he got into a physical altercation with a teacher.
Cellphone video shows the child, who has not been publicly identified, wearing metal handcuffs and being escorted by a Miami-Dade County police officer late last week from Coral Way Bilingual K-8 Center to a local children’s hospital for evaluation, according to ABC affiliate WPLG.
“It’s okay, my love,” the boy’s mother, Mercy Alvarez, called out to him in Spanish.
According to an incident report from Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, the 7-year-old became violent Thursday after he was scolded for playing with his food. The report stated that the boy “attacked the teacher by repeatedly punching her on her back,” and once he was restrained, he continued to struggle using “his fists and legs,” bringing them both to the ground.
“While on the ground, the juvenile continued to fight the teacher, grabbing her hair and pulling it towards him,” according to the report.
After the boy calmed down, he was taken to the principal’s office — and then taken into custody. The report added that the teacher had said she wanted to press charges.
The child’s father, Rolando Fuentes, told Fox affiliate WSVN that he was told his son was “a danger to society.” “I said, ‘What? Seven years old? A danger to society?’ ” he said.
“I know that my kid made a mistake,” Fuentes told WPLG. “This is completely insane.”
In November, the boy was accused of kicking a teacher, but the school handled the matter internally without getting the police involved, according to news reports. This time, the parents said they went down to the school and agreed to a 10-day suspension but were told that he had to be taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
According to the incident report, the father agreed to the evaluation, but the mother argued that there was nothing wrong with their son.
Ian Moffett, chief of the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department, said in a statement to The Washington Post, “It is rare for students this young to be Baker Acted.” Florida’s Baker Act allows individuals to be held for an involuntary psychiatric examination when they are considered a danger to themselves or others.
And the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department’s policy on mental-health examinations states that it is standard protocol to “handcuff all persons being transported, either as a prisoner or Baker Act, behind their back (exceptions are only for observable medical reasons i.e.; arm cast) for the safety and security of the officer and the person involved.”
“This action was warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself,” Moffett said in the statement. “The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures,” Moffett said. “Our Professional Compliance Unit is thoroughly reviewing this incident.”
WPLG reported that the parents are considering filing a lawsuit against the school.
“I was in shock — shock,” Fuentes told WSVN about his son’s detainment.
Alvarez, the boy’s mother, told the news station that “I feel like my heart is broken.”