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Mother Says Autistic 10-Year-Old Son’s Arrest ‘Was A Power Play’ By School District

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PORT ST. LUCIE (CBSMiami) – A mother is fuming after her 10-year-old son with autism was handcuffed, placed into a police car and taken from an Okeechobee County school.

“Does a child not have the same rights as an adult?”

Mother Luanne Haygood captured the entire video and posted it to Facebook.

“I was extremely angry. That I felt like this was a power play. I felt like this was a this is what you get. You can’t do anything about it. We’re going to arrest your son if he can’t abide by the rules,” she said.

The sheriff’s office says John Haygood was arrested for felony battery on a school board authority.

His mother said this stems from when he kicked a paraprofessional at Okeechobee Alternative Academy back in October.

“He didn’t feel good with a paraprofessional. He told me that and I told him you got to go back to school. He said, ‘I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t like him. I don’t like him. He hurts me,'” she said.

John’s mother does not deny her son’s troubled history in school, but says his autism is responsible for his behavior.

In October, John was expelled from school and forced to complete work from home.

But Wednesday, when he reported back to school for the first time in five months for state testing, things didn’t go as planned.

“To go and have him arrested on school grounds in front of other students, in front of personnel, during school hours, they could’ve come to my house at any time to tell me what was going on,” she said.

His mother is fed up calling out the school district for not providing the right resources to handle a child like John.

“If I let my emotions go, I’m going to lose it. I’m going to cry, cuss, rant and rave. Nobody will listen to me. ‘Oh, that’s the crazy lady’ or whatever,” she said. “I want something done. I want other kids to not have to go through this.”

On Thursday, the boy, in a jail jumpsuit, appeared before a judge. He has another court date next month.

The school district issued a lengthy statement about their policies, but not about this specific incident.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Clearly this is the school systems problem.
    Kid doesn’t want to go back to school because a teacher hurts him. Forced to return the kid kicks the teacher that hurts him. A paddling would be enough. But we are not in the more rational 1970s.
    The board president should have come up with an answer to “problem” kids. He got lazy and called the police. Fire him or her because they are not serving our kids.

  2. As an Educational Assistant who has worked with extreme cases of children with autism, first, we decide if this is the kind of work we can/want to do (we understand we may be kicked or bitten). Then our school board sends us for training in how to “de-escalate” the situation, and always, the protection/safety of any surrounding students is first and foremost. Sometimes students like this need 2 assistants, and a safe quiet place to put the student in. We had a small office re-constructed with nothing in that room except some detachable padding around the bottom part of the wall so the student was unable to self harm. If we were not able to de escalate, the child was sent home. I live in Canada and worked in the public system.

  3. Let me get this straight. In Florida, you can legally spank a child in school, because he is a child, but if he hurts an adult, he gets a felony charge? You can’t have it both ways. He is either a child or an adult. Even more, it’s highly likely that the para was using restraints on that child which feels like assault to an autistic person with sensory abnormalities. If the staff was providing adequate accommodations, the child wouldn’t be having meltdowns that result in physical harm to the staff. Period. The fact that they felt it necessary to involve police says a lot about their competency.

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