University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name J.W. v. La. Bd. of Elementary and Secondary Education ED-LA-0002
Docket / Court 2:10-cv-1925 ( E.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Education
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On July 8, 2010, an African-American 1st grade boy, on behalf of the rest of the students at his elementary school, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit was filed under 42 U.S.C § 1983 against the Recovery School District and the ... read more >
On July 8, 2010, an African-American 1st grade boy, on behalf of the rest of the students at his elementary school, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The suit was filed under 42 U.S.C § 1983 against the Recovery School District and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The plaintiff, represented by council from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, asked the court for injunctive relief on behalf of the students at Plaintiff's school as well as a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and compensatory damages for himself. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the school district's policy of having armed police officers restrain students who violate minor school rules by handcuffing them to chairs caused the plaintiff serious harm, and violated plaintiff's rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.

At the time of the alleged violations, plaintiff was a first-grade student at Reed Elementary School. Plaintiff was six years old, was about four feet tall, and weighed approximately 60 pounds. On May 4, 2010, plaintiff allegedly failed to follow his teacher's directions. As a result, a police officer took plaintiff to an in-school suspension room where plaintiff was confined with much older students who harassed and teased him. Plaintiff was confined in this room by having his ankle chained to a chair. Two days later, on May 6, 2010, plaintiff got into a minor altercation with a classmate over a seat in the lunchroom. An armed police officer observed this, dragged plaintiff to the principal's office where plaintiff was again forcibly chained to a chair. Plaintiff's parents were not made aware of these incidents until plaintiff complained of pain on his arm and leg after the May 6th incident. Plaintiff's father then met with school officials. At this meeting he was told that the school's policy of restraining children for minor offenses would continue. At his meeting, plaintiff's father was informed that his son would now be suspended for three days.

On February 2, 2011, the court (Judge Lance M. Africk) signed an order dismissing the case after a settlement was reached. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, the settlement included changes to the district's policies which prohibited the use of fixed restraints, limited the use of handcuffs, and provided formal training to all security personnel.

Patrick Branson - 11/04/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
General
Confinement/isolation
Excessive force
Restraints : physical
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Louisiana
Recovery School District
Plaintiff Description All children who attend Sarah T. Reed Elementary School
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:10−cv−01925 (E.D. La.) 02/02/2011
ED-LA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 07/08/2010
ED-LA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Dismissal 02/01/2011 (E.D. La.)
ED-LA-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/02/2011 (E.D. La.)
ED-LA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Africk, Lance M. (E.D. La.) [Magistrate]
ED-LA-0002-0002 | ED-LA-0002-0003 | ED-LA-0002-9000
Knowles, Daniel E. III (E.D. La.) [Magistrate]
ED-LA-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kolinchak, Carol (Louisiana)
ED-LA-0002-0001 | ED-LA-0002-9000
Robinson, Thena K (Louisiana)
ED-LA-0002-0001 | ED-LA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Glazer, Phyllis Esther (Louisiana)
ED-LA-0002-9000
Irvin, Tanya L. (Louisiana)
ED-LA-0002-9000
Keller, Michael Courtney (Louisiana)
ED-LA-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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