7-year-old Mo. student cried, was handcuffed

A student at George Melcher Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri, was escorted in 2014 to the principal’s office by a school resource officer and handcuffed en route, court documents allege, KMBC-TV reports. The boy’s family is now suing the Kansas City Public Schools.


Kalyb Wiley Primm, now 10 (ACLU)

Kalyb Wiley Primm, who is now 10 but was 7 at the time of the incident, was being bullied by classmates, he says, about a disability he has—Kalyb has a hearing impediment. According to the complaint, he began to cry and scream in response to the bullying.

A school resource officer removed him from the classroom and says Kalyb became unruly on the way to the principal’s office. At that point, Kalyb’s lawsuit contends that the officer twisted his arm away from a rail in the hallway and handcuffed him.

The American Civil Liberties Union is assisting the family with their lawsuit. “Every single thing that happened seems excessive—from grabbing his arm to putting him in the handcuffs to leaving him in the office to being ignored by the principal,” the station quoted Gillian Wilcox of the ACLU as saying. “It’s just step after step.”

The family and the ACLU are asking for attorney’s fees and other compensation, plus a requirement that the school district put a training program in place for school resource officers, advising them of children’s constitutional rights.

“Setting aside that he was 7-years-old and 50 pounds and no danger to anyone, it is illegal for the government to handcuff and restrain anyone without probable cause that a crime has been committed,” ACLU of Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert said in a statement.

A 2015 study — “Are We Closing the School Discipline Gap?” — by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the University of California, Los Angeles, found the state of Missouri had the biggest difference between the rate at which schools discipline black students and the rate at which they discipline white students at the elementary school level.

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.