County boy who was cuffed will be tested Schools to decide if pupil needs special education

June 14, 1996|By Marego Athans | Marego Athans,SUN STAFF

The six-year-old child who was handcuffed by a police officer and taken to a hospital from Woodmoor Elementary School last month will get an immediate evaluation to determine if he qualifies for special education classes, the boy's mother and a lawyer representing the family said yesterday.

School officials, meeting with the mother and an attorney for a child advocacy group, agreed to evaluate Jerrell Murray over the next three weeks and seek an educational setting tailored to address his problems.

"I'm satisfied with that," said his mother, Octavia Murray. "But I feel like they should have taken those measures before. Now, when the situation is out of hand, they want to do something about it."

Jerrell, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, has been in a regular classroom but had repeated behavior problems. On May 17, the problems came to a head when the boy hit his teacher, then head-butted and struck an assistant principal, police said.

Accounts of the boy's handling prompted complaints from the parents and others. Police say the action was for the boy's safety.

Lina Ayers, an attorney with Advocates for Children & Youth, said her priority is to push for a more suitable school setting for Jerrell. The agency will also investigate whether the use of handcuffs was necessary, press for policies on the use of restraints and advocate restraint training.

After hearing media accounts this week, Pamela Pierce, a Rosedale parent, said her son -- who also has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- was handcuffed by police and taken out of McCormick Elementary School two years ago, at age 8, when he flew out of control and struck staff members.

"I was quite angry when it happened," Pierce said. "But now I realize it was in the best interest of not only the child but others. It's hard to see a child go through this but [the parents] have to see the school's point, too."

Pub Date: 6/14/96

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