The Kenton County (Ky.) Sheriff’s Office has agreed to pay more than $337,000 “for the painful and unconstitutional handcuffing of elementary school students with disabilities,” the American Civil Liberties Union says.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the payment stems from a lawsuit brought by the mothers of two elementary school children with disabilities who were handcuffed in 2014 by a deputy sheriff school resource officer while attending schools in the Covington school district.
The children “were so small that the deputy sheriff locked the handcuffs around the children’s biceps, forcing their hands behind their backs,” the ACLU says.
The settlement "highlights the harm of having law enforcement in schools — especially for young students with disabilities," the civil rights group says. "We hope it will also open the door to more thoughtful discussions of how schools and our country can best support and educate our youth."
A video of one of the handcuffed boys drew national attention in 2015.
Watch the video:
U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman ruled last year that the cuffing of the two students by officer Kevin Sumner was unconstitutionally excessive.
"The method of handcuffing that Sumner employed leads this Court to conclude that his actions were unreasonable and constituted excessive force as a matter of law," the judge wrote.
The case prompted a Department of Justice investigation into the school district’s disciplinary practices.
In January 2017, Covington Independent Schools entered into an agreement with the Justice Department and enacted new policies to ensure that disciplinary practices do not discriminate against children.