Dennis Rivera, age 5, is now considered among the most dangerous criminals inhabiting the streets and schools of New York City. The noted felon, erupted in a violent outburst which compelled New York’s finest to rush to the scene and place the young criminal in handcuffs in order to save the entire school from potential danger. A safety agent at Public School 81, placed handcuffs on the kindergarten student in order to save the lives of other endangered children. The incident outraged the American Civil Liberties Union which has long been upset at such incidents involving children, but, none directed against kindergarteners. School Chancellor Joel Klein called the handcuffing incident “troubling” but would not go so far as to cast any blame on security guards who inflicted such punishment on a toddler. He said rules on handling unruly students are murky. “When you are dealing with youngsters, when you are dealing with people having trouble, this requires human judgments, not some kind of simple protocol.”
I have taught a few thousand students and twelve thousand teachers during my fifty years teaching in such areas as Harlem and suburan America as well as in a small town, but, for some reason have never felt the need to handcuff a child. During my recent work in Brooklyn schools, I encountered several such cases of security guards entering classrooms to handcuff students, and, in some cases to arrest teachers who attempted halting such practices. It is shocking a superintendent of a school district believes rules are “murky” about placing handcuffs on a five year old. Mr. Klein, you already have done enough damage to public schools, why not return to the business community and, perhaps, arrange for handcuffing executives who throw tantrums.