Last Thursday, a 7-year-old boy was taken away in handcuffs from a school by police after he allegedly repeatedly attacked a teacher. According to the police report, the boy at Coral Way K-8 Center in Miami was enraged after he was taken out of the school cafeteria for playing with his food; removed to the hallway where his female teacher was, he “attacked the teacher by repeatedly punching her on her back.” Even after he was restrained, he threw punches and kicks, causing them both to fall on the floor, but even then he fought her, “grabbing her hair and pulling it towards him” before he was finally restrained.
The child was taken to the principal’s office. His parents, Rolando Fuentes and Mercy Alvarez, said they came to the school and consulted with counselors, agreeing to a 10-day suspension for their son. They say that the female police officer told them she had to arrest their son or transport him for psychiatric evaluation. According to WSVN, the teacher told police she wanted to press charges.
Miami-Dade Schools Police Ian Moffett stated, “This action was warranted to prevent his erratic and violent behavior from bringing further harm to others or himself. The manner in which he was transported to the receiving facility was done in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures.”
Public schools spokeswoman Jackie Calzadilla stated that the child “began behaving erratically and hit a teacher. Due to a great concern for the student and to ensure his safety and that of those around him, he was restricted according to the Baker Act and transported to the hospital to be evaluated.”
The boy was detained under the provisions of the Florida Mental Health Act (Baker Act), which gives behavioral criteria to measure whether a child could pose a danger to themselves or their peers. He was hospitalized at the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, but discharged hours later.
The boy had been accused of kicking a teacher back in November; the school apparently thought it had resolved the issue.
Speaking to el Nuevo Herald, Alvares said, “This is police abuse; a whim of the officer, because my son was calm when they came to look for him. The principal, the counselor, and two other people tried to prevent that action and the officer took the child anyway.” She also said, “More than 30 mothers in Miami have written to me in solidarity because their children have done the same thing.”
Fuentes said, “We have to make justice.”