DENVER — The Denver Public School District (DPS) released data that shows a dramatic reduction in the number of instances where students were placed in handcuffs over the first trimester of the school year.
Since Aug. 1, 2019, the DPS Department of Safety responded to 768 calls regarding a student-related behavior concern. During that time, a total of three students were placed in handcuffs. During that same time in 2017, handcuffs were used 24 times and in 2018 they were used 23 times, according to DPS data.
The reduction comes after the DPS Board of Education (BOE) on June 13, 2019, unanimously passed a Mechanical Restraints Resolution with the objective to eliminate the use of handcuffs with elementary students. There were exceptions put in place for instances where a student displayed a deadly weapon.
The district's policies came under scrutiny after a parent of a student at a Denver elementary school said his son was handcuffed while at school.
Brandon Pryor said his 7-year-old son was handcuffed at Florida Pitt Waller School in April after he got in a fight with a classmate.
“There’s never a reason for a 7-year-old to be placed in handcuffs and criminalized basically for getting into a schoolyard fight,” Pryor said in April. “I was just outraged. I couldn’t believe that the people who have been put to the task of protecting our children are actually hurting and harming our children.”
The resolution also aimed to reduce handcuff usage with middle and high school students.
As part of the resolution, the district also promised to release certain data related to the use of handcuffs each trimester. According to that data, two of the three students who placed in handcuffs were high school age, the third was in middle school. Two students were black and one was white, according to the DPS data.
In one incident, the student had a weapon, in another, a staff member was assaulted. In the third incident, the DPS said the student was "under the influence", but no other details were given.
DPS in May said staff had put 58 students in handcuffs from 2017 to 2019. 9Wants to Know learned in August that number is 155, almost triple that initial report.
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